October 2013, Issue 143

unpan-ap@sass.org.cn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

World Bank Group Must Take Bold Steps, Accept ‘Smart Risks’ to Help End Poverty in a Generation, Says President Jim Yong Kim

Countries Should Make Carbon Pricing the Cornerstone of Climate Policy, Says OECD

ADB Hints at Rational Subsidy Policy

A Look at Trafficking in Asia

 

 

 

 

CHINA: Central Bank Vows Effective Policy Coordination

China Issues Guidance for Gov't Purchases of Services

Consumer Rights Law First Amended

JAPAN: Abe Vows to Carry Out Reforms

Ministry Adopts Anti-bullying Policy

Govt to Ensure ‘Right to Know’ in Bill

LDP Readies Referendum Law Revision

Secrets Protection Bill to Ensure Freedom of Press to Collect Info

Japanese Government Plans to Outsource Management of Some Forex Reserves

Japan Prepares for New Law to Protect National Secrets

SOUTH KOREA: Gov't Unveils New R&D Strategy in ICT Area

 

 

 

 

INDONESIA: Mulling Further Developing Geothermal Power - Minister

Indonesian City Adopts “Green City” Programme

CAMBODIA: PM Unveils 5-Year Strategy, Vowing Deep Reforms

MYANMAR: Moving Ahead with Constitution Amendment

Myanmar Drafts National Energy Policy

PHILIPPINES: Post Introduces Electronic Postal Money Order

SINGAPORE: Issuing Guidelines on Personal Data Protection

THAILAND: Reform Initiative - Phongthep Expects Quick Progress

VIETNAM: Education Technology Programme Goes National

 

 

 

 

BANGLADESH: Bill Passed to Drop Convicts from Electoral Roll

Bill Passed to Ensure Harsher Punishment for Food Adulteration

New ICT Law Aimed at Gagging Oppn Voice BNP

INDIA: Telecom Department Accepts TRAI’s Floor Price Plan

Union Cabinet Clears Bill to Give Statutory Status to UIDAI

West Bengal Plans to Modernise Legal System

SRI LANKA: Govt to Present Appropriation Bill for 2014 to Parliament This Week

Massive Development Projects Will Be Initiated in Sri Lanka in Future – President

NEPAL: Govt Launches Plan of Action for 'Holistic Development' of Adolescent Population

PAKISTAN: Punjab Plans Security Steps for Moharram

 

 

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: E-Textbooks Portal to Be Launched

Railway Modernization Intensified in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan Set Up Children's Paralympic Movement as Part of New Strategy

KYRGYZSTAN: Announcing Initiative to Establish Tourist Union of Central Asia

TURKMENISTAN: Economic Policy Discussed at High Level

UZBEKISTAN: Under Review by the UN Committee Against Torture - Report on Uzbekistan’s Implementation of the CAT

 

 

 

 

AUSTRALIA: Getting New Mobile Privacy Guide

Australian Information Commissioner Releases Mobile Privacy Guide

No Plan to Privatise Assets: Qld Govt

FIJI: Government Clarifies Digital Broadcasting Plan

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Pushing Integrity Bill to Ensure Political Stability

 

 

 

 

Asia Must Step Up Governance Reforms to Sustain Growth and Development

 

 

CHINA: Premier Li Vows to Deepen Reform

Chinese Government Website Opens Microblog, Wechat Accounts

China's Xi Stresses Conflict Resolution Through Rule of Law

Gov't Function Reform China's Top Priority

China to Recruit 19,000 National-level Civil Servants

Discipline Agency Vows Swift Handling of Holiday Tip-Offs

CPC Official Urges Greater Role for Labor Unions

Li Urges Greater Govt Effort to Advance Reforms

China Stresses Auditors' Role in Guarding Fiscal Stability

JAPAN: Civil Service Reform in Limbo

LDP Likely to Loosen Reins on Civil Servants

SOUTH KOREA: Gov't Seeks to Enhance Transparency in Generating Statistics - Minister

MONGOLIA: Self-Service Machines to Improve State Services

 

 

CAMBODIA: Newly-Formed Gov't "Legitimate"

MALAYSIA: PM Keeps Leadership Lineup in Party Elections

THAILAND: Engaging Citizens to Smoke Out Corruption

Freeze on Civil Servants Awaits Govt Approval

 

 

BANGLADESH: Cabinet Satisfied with Its Performance

INDIA: Government to Launch m-Governance System

MALDIVES: Committee to Summon Supreme Court Judges

Parliament Passes to Hand Power to Speaker, If No Pres by Nov 11

NEPAL: Political Parties Intensifies Door-to-door Campaign in Sunsari

PAKISTAN: Sindh Govt to Appoint 200 Law Graduates in Police Dept

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: Post-Election Report and What Comes Next

TURKMENISTAN: Electoral Districts Established Due to Parliamentary Elections

UZBEKISTAN: Boosting E-Government

Government 3.0 the Future of Opening, Sharing, Communication, and Collaboration

 

 

COOK ISLANDS: Push for More Women to Take on Politics

FIJI: Civil Service Trade Unions Demand Pay Rise

New Project Aims for More Women in Parliament: National Council of Women Fiji

NEW ZEALAND: Low-Earning Parliamentary Workers Should Be First in Line for Living Wage - Greens

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: PM O’Neill Backs Constitutional Reform

PNG New Wages Board to Review National Rate

Call for Positive Attitude: PNG Constitutional and Law Reform Commission

 

 

 

Boosting Skills Essential for Tackling Joblessness and Improving Well-Being, Says OECD

Reform R&D Tax Systems to Boost Innovation and Help Young Firms, Says OECD

ITU Launches WSIS Project Prize 2014 Competition

World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings 2013: Development Committee Communique

Joint Statement by Multilateral Institutions on Trade Facilitation Assistance

Warming May Harm Millions

Boosting Regional Trade in Financial Products: Asia Region Funds Passport

Improving Connectivity Strengthens Regional Linkages but Gaps Still Exist, Says Study

Power Swaps Can Help Asia-Pacific Manage Daunting Future Energy Needs – Report

 

 

CHINA: Li Praises Foreign Experts for Contribution

Study of Scientific Outlook on Development Stressed

Chinese Mainland Universities Climb Up World Rankings

Overburdened Scenic Spots Urged to Improve Management

China to Tighten Checks During Travel Rush

China Tightens Management of Poverty-Relief Funds

China's Top Leaders Urge Improving Rural Conditions

China to Monitor Public Service Vehicles

Chinese Vote on Public Holiday Arrangements

China Cracks Down on Illegal Publications

China to Advance Reforms to Improve Quality of Growth

China Seeks to Boost Intl Arbitration System

Academic Committees to Supervise Scientific Fund Use

JAPAN: To Upgrade Its Cyberdefense Capabilities

SOUTH KOREA: To Build Healthcare Information Systems in Saudi Arabia

S. Korean Scientists Develop New, Advanced Material for Carbon Capture

Creative Economy, 'Paradigm for Innovation': President

Seoul Conference Discusses Future of Development After 2015

Defense Ministry Probes Cyber Command's Alleged Online Smear Campaign

First Korea-Latin America IT Forum Held in Seoul

MONGOLIA: Easing Restrictions on Foreign Investors

 

 

INDONESIA: Signing MOU with University to Enhance Geospatial Skill Sets

MYANMAR: Gov't Vows to Cooperate to Prevent Recurrence of Racial, Religious Conflicts

MALAYSIA: Launching Geospatial Services Portal

PHILIPPINES: Local Government Units Trained in Disaster Mapping

Philippine Water Resource Board to Develop E-Records Management System

The Philippines Conducts ICT Policy Consultative Workshop

Philippine Province Institutionalises E-Scorecard Tool for Performance Management

The Philippines’ Largest Health Charity Rolls Out New Storage Solution

SINGAPORE: Leveraging Open Source Solutions to Drive Business Analytics Development

Singapore Tests Effectiveness of Diabetes Management App

Singapore Hospital Achieves Global Benchmark for Advanced Healthit

THAILAND: Police Monitors Threats Through Instant Messaging App

3D Technology to Tackle Singapore's Urban Planning Challenges

VIETNAM: Urged to Develop Waste Treatment Plants

 

 

SRI LANKA: First Nanotechnology Research Center and Nanoscience Park to Be Opened on 21st

Sri Lanka's First Common ATM to Be Expanded

MALDIVES: Security Forces Ramps Up TV Stations Security

NEPAL: Govt Has Made Tight Security Arrangements to Ensure Free, Fair Polls Home Minister

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: To Introduce IMEI Code Check over SMS

KAZAKHSTAN: Will Introduce Innovations in "A" Corps Candidate Recruiting

TAJIKISTAN: Development of Transport and Communication System Vitally Important

TURKMENISTAN: Commencing Establishment of National Standard Base

UZBEKISTAN: Taking Measures to Support Domestic Programmers

Uzbekistan Mandates Hiring Preferences

Uzbekistan Increases Fines for Several Administrative Offenses

 

 

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Giant Free-Trade Deal to Link Asia-Pacific

Pacific Women Demand Immediate Action

AUSTRALIA: University Rolls Out New Learning Management System

Public Sector Management Program Put to Market

FIJI: Calls for Urgent Attention on Problems of LDC

NEW ZEALAND: Govt Figures Show Benefit Numbers Continue to Fall

 

 

 

OECD: Employment Gains Offset by Long-term Jobless Data

OECD Says Employment Rising, but Still Off Pre-crisis Level

17 Million People Jobless for Over a Year: OECD

APEC Health Ministers Issue Statement on Health and the Economy

Emerging Asian Economies Expected to Remain Resilient but Structural Reform Critical, Says New Economic Outlook for Southeast Asia, China and India

The Combined eCommerce Spending of Australia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea Will Reach $854 Billion by 2018

Analysis of APEC Actions to Meet New Economic Conditions

 

 

CHINA: 100 Websites Pledge Healthy, Positive Content

China Confident in Meeting Economic Targets: Premier

China Tops APEC CEOs' Picks for Investment

Big-Data-Based Reform to Facilitate Economic Restructuring

China's Economy Transforming but Challenges Remain

Vice Premier Stresses Health Care for Elderly

Chinese Economy Maintains Solid Growth Pace

China Prepares for Smart City Construction Boom

Scientists Achieve Internet Access Through Lightbulbs

Japan-U.S. Security Talks Likely to Highlight Tokyo's Cyber-Defense Gaps

India, Japan to Collaborate in ICT

Japan Needs 80,000 EXTRA Info-Security Bods to Stay Safe

SOUTH KOREA: Gov't Expands Sales Network for Mvnos

More Than 100,000 Cases of Cybercrime Occur in S. Korea Every Year

S. Korea Tops Global ICT List for 4th Year

S. Korea's IT Exports Jump 7.5 Pct in Sept.

S. Korea's Smartphone Market Growth Forecast to Turn Negative This Year

Korea Tops Global IT Competitiveness 2012: ITU

President at Cyberspace Conference: ‘World Should Close the Digital Divide’

S. Korea Committed to Help Developing Nations Foster Internet Economy

South Korea Counts Its Cyber War Losses

NORTH KOREA: 'Thousands' of Cyber Attacks on South - Ministry Data

In Cyberarms Race, North Korea Emerging as a Power, Not a Pushover

 

 

Indonesian President Calls for Increased Investment, Infrastructure in APEC Region

MALAYSIA: E-Learning Network to Be Completed This Year

Malaysia’s ICT Roadmap to Focus on Cloud

PHILIPPINES: Mobile Education for 1 Million Philippine Out-of-school Youths

ADB Optimistic About Philippine Economy amid Concern over Job Creation

Philippine Agency Turns to Virtualisation to Cut Costs

SINGAPORE: Seniors to Remain Digitally Connected

Singapore Aims to Raise Share of Public Transport During Peak Hours

Singapore Launches Real-Time Lightning Mobile App

New Search Engine for Thailand’s Largest Digital Legislative Library

THAILAND: To Develop Electronic Certification Infrastructure

VIETNAM: Elderly People Make Up 10.2 Pct of Population - Survey

Vietnam’s Capital Enhances E-Tax Filing Service

Community Action Essential to Protect Forests

 

 

BANGLADESH: 5 ICT Recommendations Could Yield Tangible Outcomes

INDIA: Centre Approves E-Governance Projects for Jharkhand

Punjab to Implement e-District Project

Chief Minister of Meghalaya Launches e-CST in the State

India Post Launches Instant Money Transfer from UAE to India

Jammu & Kashmir to Have National Optical Fibre Network

Wireless Subscriber Base Increases in India

RBI Launches New RTGS System

SRI LANKA: Ranking 36th in Best Countries for Older People

Govt Will Develop Rural Education – President

MALDIVES: Kicking Off O-Level Exams with over 8,000 Students

PAKISTAN: Punjab Govt Improving Healthcare System Minister

IRSA Releases 91,651 Cusecs Water for Rim Stations

 

 

ARMENIA: Ministry of Economy - "ArmTech 2013"

AZERBAIJAN: Local Executive Authorities Join E-Government Portal

Great Britain Discusses Cooperation Directions on ICT Sphere with Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan, UK to Expand ICT Cooperation

Poverty in Azerbaijan Dropped from 49 to 6 Percent - Ronald Reagan House

Azerbaijan Improves Its ICT Ranking

Azerbaijan’s Revenues from ICT Sector Increase by over 10 Per Cent

Azerbaijani Government Prepares to Sue Mobile Operators

ICT Achievements and Goals Mulled in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan, U.S. to Discuss ICT Prospects

Azerbaijan’s ICT Achievements to Be Presented in Thailand

Diversification– Priority in Azerbaijan's Further Economic Development

 

 

Pacific Countries Rank Top for Disasters Risk Exposure Globally

Education for Pacific Women Improving but Limited Jobs

New Publication Reveals Advances in Gender Equality

Preserving Asia and the Pacific's Cultural Traditions

AUSTRALIA: New Online Community Engagement for Gold Coast Health Consumers

GPs Raise Concerns over E-Health Record System

Complaints About Australian Telecoms Services Falls to 5-Year Low

FIJI: Minimum Wage Consultation Completed

NEW ZEALAND: Launching Health Advice Mobile App

New Zealand’s Automated Customs Service Successful

TONGA: First Call Centre Dials in to Lucrative International Market

 

 

 

EAP: Threatened Marine Ecosystems Get Boost from US$4.5 Million Grant from the Global Environment Facility

Developing Countries to Receive Over $410 Billion in Remittances in 2013, Says World Bank

Global Partnership for Social Accountability Announces First Grants

Migrants from Developing Countries to Send Home $414 Billion in Earnings in 2013

Global Climate Spending Falling Further Behind Target: Report

Rising Risks to Emerging East Asia's Local Currency Bonds - ADB Report

Developing Asia Slowing amid Global Financial Jitters

0.3% of GDP Would Protect East Asia from Climate Change - ADB Report

 

 

CHINA: Foreign Debt Stands at US$772 Bln

China's Local Government Debt 'Controllable'

China Allocates 2.2 Bln Yuan to Boost Health Sector

Renminbi Role 'Changing in Global Trade'

China Allocates Funds to Boost Food Security

JAPAN: Sales Tax Hike Masks Bigger Problem of Welfare Spending

BOJ Holds Off New Monetary Easing Measures

Japan's Structural Reforms Critical to Meeting Inflation Goal IMF

SOUTH KOREA: Gov't Liabilities Exceed 900 Tln Won in 2012 - Data

S. Korea's Economy Shows Signs of Recovering: Finance Minister

 

 

MYANMAR: WB's Loan Approval Supports Development

THAILAND: Ropes in Bank to Develop Online Tax Payment

Minimum 0.5% Tax Rate on Used Land Approved

VIETNAM: Remains Among Top 10 Recipients of Remittances in 2013 - WB

Vietnam Health Ministry Invests US$4.7mil on Electronic Medical Record

Assembly Reviews State Spending

 

 

BANGLADESH: Govt Receives Tk 7.5 Crore as Dividend from BDBL

INDIA: Government to Invest 25,000 Crore to Connect Rural India

TRAI Releases Consultation Paper on Mobile Banking for Financial Inclusion

SRI LANKA: Broadly on Track to Meet 2013 Forecasts ADB

Budget – 2014 on November 21st

Sri Lanka May Extend Tax Breaks for New Stock Listings

Sri Lanka Opposition Says Will Reverse Casino Tax Holidays

NEPAL: Cabinet Approves Loan Assistance of Rs 7.35 Billion by ADB

PAKISTAN: Government Releases Rs63.476 Billion for Development Projects

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: Seeing Rise in Banking Sector Assets

Azerbaijan's Microfinance Market to Double

Over $180 Mln Invested in ICT, Postal Sector This Year

Azerbaijan's Foreign Trade Turnover Increased by 6.4%

KAZAKHSTAN: To Increase Excise Taxes

TAJIKISTAN: Cutting Rate 60 Bps to 5.5% as Inflation Drops

National Bank of the Republic of Tajikistan: The Rate of Foreign Currencies Remained Stable

TURKMENISTAN: State Budget Revenue Executed by Almost 121 Per Cent

 

 

AUSTRALIA: Post Spends AU$ 71 Million to Modernise Parcel Tracking System

COOK ISLANDS: Government Delivers Surplus for Last Financial Year

FIJI: National Provident Fund Assets at $4.2billion

NEW ZEALAND: Tax System & Process to Be Transformed

New Zealand to Spend US$ 175m on E-Learning Network

 

 

Asia Nations Should Monitor Private Sector Leverage Levels

Private Sector in PPP Initiative Needs to Mitigate Risks as Well

 

 

CHINA: Targeting 8-Trln-Yuan Health Service Sector

JAPAN: Gov't Eyes Private Sector to Manage Part of Its $1.27 Tril Forex Reserves

Fujitsu to Begin Talks on Using ICT for Management of Resources and Environment in Vietnam

Japan GPIF Moves Toward Private-Equity Investment - Sources

Govt Considers Aid for 3rd-Sector Reform

Japan Aims to Improve Forex Reserves Management with Help of Private Sector

SOUTH KOREA: Over 100 SMEs Likely to Face Debt Restructuring This Year - Banks

Gov't Spends 3.3 Tln Won on Covering Losses from Joint Projects with Private Sector

President Pushes for Creative Energy Sector

 

 

INDONESIA: Well Placed for Investment - President

Indonesia Keen to Comply with Investment Target This Year

PHILIPPINES: Introducing Simplified Business Registration Process

Philippine Electronics, Semiconductor Industry Reports Double Digit Decline

SINGAPORE: Research Agency Manages Enterprise & Web Content

THAILAND: Industry Sector to Boost Energy Demand - ADB

Govt Focuses on G2G Deals to Boost Rice Exports

Private Sector Ready to Back Govt's Bt2-TN

VIETNAM: Drug Plan Benefits Firms

 

 

INDIA: Maharashtra Transport Corporation Adopts GPS and Wi-FI Systems

SRI LANKA: Govt to Implement Special Security Arrangements for Aircraft Bringing Commonwealth Dignitaries

Sri Lanka Telecom Connects CHOGM

PAKISTAN: Govt Switching Three Power Plants to Coal to Save Two-Third Cost

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: Debt of the Telecommunications Sector - AZN 639.6 Million

Azerbaijan’s ICT Sector Has Grown 20%-25% in Past 10 Years

Bakcell Has Ended Core Network Unification

UZBEKISTAN: Information Technology Business Is Booming

ICD Signs New Deal to Support Small Enterprises

 

 

NEW ZEALAND: SMEs Give Local Councils a Poor Score Card

Govt Seeks Private Sector Ideas on Public Asset Management

Tech Savvy SMEs Earn More, Hire More - Survey

 

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World Bank Group Must Take Bold Steps, Accept ‘Smart Risks’ to Help End Poverty in a Generation, Says President Jim Yong Kim

 

With more than a billion people in the world living on less than $1.25 per day, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim today said that extreme poverty was “the defining moral issue of our time,” and he described how a new World Bank Group strategy would realign the global institution to help end poverty by 2030 and boost shared prosperity. Speaking at George Washington University on the eve of the World Bank Group/IMF Annual Meetings, Kim said the Bank must be bold and not be afraid to take “smart risks” to support projects that have the potential to transform a country or a region. Kim pledged that he would direct more funding to fragile and conflict-affected states. He said it his hope to increase the share of IDA core financing – the Bank’s fund for the poorest – to fragile and conflict-affected states by about 50 percent in the next three years. He also said that the IFC, the Bank’s private sector arm, also would increase funding by 50 percent over three years for low-income and fragile states.

 

The IFC increase could amount to more than an $800 million increase over three years; the IDA amount could not be determined until countries made pledges later in the year. Kim specifically called on the international community to give greater support to Lebanon, which has allowed more than 760,000 Syrian refugees to settle since fighting broke out in Syria more than two and a half years ago. “We need to do much more or we risk catastrophe in Lebanon,” Kim said. In his speech, Kim said the new World Bank Group strategy – the first ever to bring together the entire organization, which includes the Bank, IFC, and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, or MIGA, which provides political risk insurance — would work toward a common purpose. “For the World Bank Group, our strategy is based on the entire organization working and pulling together,” said Kim. “Our strategy also forces us to be selective – first, choosing our priorities and then, abandoning those activities that are not.”

 

Kim highlighted three elements of the strategy:

“First, we will partner with the private sector to use their expertise and capital to fight poverty.  This is particularly important to create good jobs for the poor. Second, we will increase our commitment to fragile and conflict-affected states, which will require us to be bolder, take more risks, and commit more resources. And third, we will be as ambitious as possible on issues that are of global importance, including investing in women and girls and climate change. Our response to climate change, for instance, must be bold enough to match the scope of the problem.” Kim called for a social movement to end poverty, and he noted that interest in the issue was coalescing around the globe. “Just six months ago, the board of governors for the World Bank Group laid a foundation for a social movement by endorsing our two goals and declaring that we can end extreme poverty by 2030. Now we are seeing interest from all corners. Political leaders, including President Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, are calling for an end to poverty. Faith-based leaders are calling for an end to poverty.

 

The One campaign, Oxfam, Save the Children, and RESULTS and many other civil society groups are calling for an end to poverty. And young people – people like yourselves here at George Washington University -- are calling for an end to poverty,” said Kim. Kim described his attendance at the Global Poverty Project’s Global Citizens Festival in New York’s Central Park on September 28, and he encouraged listeners to his speech to log on to the Global Poverty Project website -- www.zeropoverty2030.org -- and sign a petition to end poverty in a generation. “This is the defining moral issue of our time.  Our goals are clear. End extreme poverty by 2030.   Share prosperity with the bottom 40 percent, and share it with future generations. We have an opportunity to bend the arc of history and commit ourselves to do something that other generations have only dreamed of,” Kim said.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 10/01/2013

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Countries Should Make Carbon Pricing the Cornerstone of Climate Policy, Says OECD

 

Credible and consistent carbon pricing must be the cornerstone of government actions to tackle climate change, according to a new OECD report. Releasing the report Climate and carbon: Aligning prices and policies during a Lecture organised jointly with the London School of Economics, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said that a transformation of the global energy system is needed if countries hope to limit climate change to a 2ºC temperature increase from pre-industrial levels, as agreed by the global community. He called for a coherent approach to carbon pricing, to ensure that price signals sent to consumers, producers and investors alike are consistent and facilitate the gradual phase-out of fossil fuel emissions. He also questioned how much impact existing climate policies can have when countries around the world continue to subsidise the exploration, production and use of fossil fuels. Read Mr. Gurría’s speech on The climate challenge: achieving zero emissions. “Whatever policy mix we put in place, it has to lead to the complete elimination of emissions to the atmosphere from fossil fuels in the second half of the century,” Mr Gurría said. “We don’t need to see zero net emissions tomorrow, but we will need to be on the pathway.”

 

The report says governments need to ensure that carbon pricing is sufficient to achieve climate goals and that other policies are well-aligned with these goals. With international negotiations getting under way for a new climate agreement in 2015, every government needs to review its policy settings and rigorously assess if their overall impact helps climate action or hinders it. Diesel produces 18% more CO2 emissions than gasoline per-litre, and should have higher tax rates, but the reality is the reverse in most countries. “Cherry-picking a few easy policy measures is not enough,” Mr Gurría said. “There has to be progress on every front, but notably with respect to carbon pricing, and we don’t have any time to waste. Unlike the financial crisis, we do not have a ‘climate bailout’ option up our sleeves.” The OECD report says that extending and improving the use of carbon taxes and emissions trading schemes is a necessary first step. Governments also need to reform the estimated USD 55-90 billion of support provided each year to fossil fuel exploration, production and consumption in OECD countries[1] and the USD 523 billion in fuel and energy subsidies in developing countries[2]. While subsidies for consumers are often put in place for social reasons, they are usually poorly targeted, expensive and ultimately undermine climate policy action as well. The OECD identifies key elements for developing credible, stable and sustainable carbon pricing mechanisms that can underpin investments in new technologies, as well as in the infrastructure needed to achieve a zero net emission future. Among the measures analysed are policy instruments that price every tonne of CO2 emitted, and other policies that put an implicit price on emissions and cost-effectively spur innovation. The resulting policy package should increase incentives for consumers, producers and investors alike into making energy-efficient choices consistent with a zero carbon trajectory.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 10/09/2013

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ADB Hints at Rational Subsidy Policy

 

Hinting at subsidy rationalisation as remedy for managing energy demands in Malaysia, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said the country needs to strengthen its energy efficiency policies and programmes for more prudent use. ADB’s suggestion comes as a reaffirmation to Malaysia’s work-in-progress subsidy rationalisation policy, the signs of which started with two continuous fuel price hikes during the last month. “Rationalising or phasing out of fuel subsidies will also work to change consumer behaviour in relation to energy consumption, and eventually curb energy demand,” said ADB in its “Energy outlook for Asia and the Pacific” report released recently. The regional multilateral lending agency said Malaysia is projected to remain a net coal importer and net natural gas exporter over the outlook period (2010-2035). The country will continue to be a major liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter to Asia and the Pacific from the Bintulu LNG complex supplied by gas fields off the shores of Sarawak. ADB said oil demand in Asia and the Pacific is projected to increase by 1.9% yearly over the outlook period and reach 1,973 Mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent) by 2035, 59.3% higher than the 1,238.2 Mtoe in 2010. The demand, it said, will be driven by the transport sector which will account for 60.5% of incremental growth in oil demand between 2010 and 2035.

 

Natural gas demand in the region is projected to increase at 3.9% per year, reaching 1,463.2 Mtoe in 2035, 2.6 times the 2010 level of 566.7 Mtoe. With regard to Malaysia, it said since car ownership is not likely to reach saturation level in the near future, a subsidy cut for transport fuels could be crucial to improve energy use in the transport sector. It is estimated that a total eradication of oil and gas subsidies will save RM10 billion for the exchequer. According to the government’s economic report for 2012, the government spent RM42.4 billion on subsidies which include fuel, rice, sugar, essential items and goods, plantations, fertilisers, medical etc. The subsidy amount for 2013 is estimated to be trimmed down to RM37.6 billion. Taking small steps towards the subsidy rationalisation, RON95 petrol and diesel prices were raised by 10.5% and 11.1% respectively, from Sept 3, 2013. Fuel prices were last hiked in July and December 2010, by a total 5.7%. Going by expectations from Maybank Investment Bank Research, gas and electricity prices could be next to see a hike.

From http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/ 10/17/2013

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A Look at Trafficking in Asia

 

“Men carry a huge responsibility in ending violence against women. Male parliamentarians hold tremendous capacity to bring this to legislation,” says Tissa Karalliyadda, minister of Child Development and Women’s Affairs of Sri Lanka. Karalliyadda is also chair of the standing committee of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians for Population and Development (AFPPD). The forum aims to address the “increased feminisation of migration” in the region. Its first project is to discuss ways by which governments can address the issues of violence against women with a focus on child marriage in South Asia and trafficking in Southeast Asia. Last week, members of the standing committee along with Southeast Asian MPs met here to discuss trafficking issues through a “gender lens” and to formulate policy actions and national responses to address trafficking and violence against women. They also launched last Thursday a “policy brief” on human trafficking in the region, providing policymakers “with in-depth understanding of trafficking cases in each country, consequences in practice, policy and legal framework, and policy recommendations”.

 

Stressing the “urgency” of the issue, Rep. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao linked the rise in sex trafficking to “widening income disparities” that have resulted in increasing “feminisation” of overseas work. “We need to fully implement the laws against trafficking,” he said. AFPPD executive director Mon San Pascual said the standing committee and issue brief had been “planned by male parliamentarians” in the region in recognition of the need to “tackle issues of violence against women”. But he stressed that sex trafficking is not the only form of trafficking that needs to be curtailed by law. There is also forced labour, “under slavery-like conditions”. Partnering with AFPPD in the development of the issue brief were AusAID, the Australian government’s overseas aid programme, and various UN agency offices in the region. An overview of the issue says that the data that exist “is usually the number of victims identified, and traffickers prosecuted by state authorities.” But this is just the tip of the bigger problem. “Most victims and traffickers are not identified and most traffickers are not prosecuted,” says the document. “Anti-trafficking policies tend to assume that the needs and priorities of those not identified as trafficked will be the same as for those who are; however, the little research that has been done in this area suggests otherwise.”

 

Another problem is what the writers call “gender biases within existing data”. “With the focus so often solely on women and girls, it is difficult to estimate the number of men and boys who are trafficked as so few programs exist to identify or support them and their profile is so low.” Compounding the problem is that “many survivors do not want to be identified or ‘labelled’ as trafficked, perhaps because of the stigma attached to that word, or because they do not wish to return home”. These gaps in data “have consequences beyond data collection”, the study asserts. “Identifying a person as trafficked places obligations on the State to provide them with a range of services and to investigate and punish the perpetrators. Authorities making the determination may view individuals who fit the definition of trafficking as smuggled or as irregular migrants, who do not evoke the same level of legal protection, then place them in detention pending deportation. This constitutes a breach of international law.”

 

The issue brief in its section on the Philippines locates the issue of trafficking within the context “of the migration of over one million Filipinos each year to work abroad, the highest rate in Asia”. The majority of the 10 million Filipinos working abroad are women, although men, too, are trafficked for illegal labour as well as for sexual purposes. “Trafficking for organ removal has also been documented,” says the study, while rural-to-urban trafficking is also an issue. In terms of laws penalising trafficking, “the Philippines takes a leading role in counter-trafficking at the regional and international level”. Our government criminalised all forms of trafficking in 2003. “While the anti-trafficking law does not make an explicit link with violence against women,” says the study, “the Magna Carta of Women recognizes trafficking as a form of VAW.” It even goes beyond international human rights law, “framing prostitution as a form of VAW” while also criminalising “the purchase of sex”.

 

But there are problems with the “outright conflation of trafficking with prostitution”, among them the tendency to focus attention on the sex sector, “sweeping up individuals who sell sex but were not trafficked”. Another problem is that “rescue operations in this sector often fail to respect the rights of women working in the raided venues, including their right to privacy, and women who have been trafficked into the sex sector report being treated like criminals”. Also a drawback in this focus on sex trafficking is that “trafficking in other labor sectors escapes scrutiny and those perpetuating the exploitation are able to do so with impunity. (The low numbers of labor inspectors) across the country in part explains the low rate of identified victims of trafficking for labor exploitation”. The situation is complicated and tends to create even more problems than was initially identified.

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 10/22/2013

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CHINA: Central Bank Vows Effective Policy Coordination

 

China's central bank has reiterated its commitment to a prudent monetary policy while also pledging to make its policy more targeted and coordinated to support the real economy."The central bank will fine-tune its policy in a timely and proper manner to seek a balance between stabilizing growth, advancing restructuring, promoting reforms and preventing risks," said a statement released on Sunday after a regular meeting of the People's Bank of China.The bank vowed to optimize the distribution of financial resources to create a steady environment for China's ongoing economic restructuring and upgrading.It also reiterated its pledge to push forward market-oriented reforms in its interest rate and exchange rate mechanisms.The latest comments came amid the country's increasing efforts to deepen financial reforms.China on Sunday opened a pilot free trade zone in Shanghai, which will be a test bed for a wide range of market-oriented reforms, including easing restrictions on finance, investment and trade, a move widely hailed as a crucial step in the country's reform and opening up.

From http://www.news.cn/ 09/29/2013

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China Issues Guidance for Gov't Purchases of Services

 

The Chinese government has issued guidance for government purchases of public services from social organizations and private companies, according to an official statement on Monday.The State Council, or the Cabinet, said China will gradually carry out such purchases at local level between now and 2015. It will establish a system for government purchases of services from the private sector by 2020, according to a statement on www.gov.cn.Public service sectors including education, employment, social security, medical health, housing security, culture and sports, as well as those serving the disabled, should open wider to the private sector in a step-by-step manner, the statement said.Service providers may include social organizations, companies or institutions legally registered or approved, it said.Services that should be directly offered by the government, or not suitable for being undertaken by the private sector, or not included in government responsibilities, should not be purchased, the statement added.Local governments and related departments should study and formulate a detailed catalogue of guidance for public services that could be purchased, said the State Council.

From http://www.news.cn/ 09/30/2013

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Consumer Rights Law First Amended

 

China's top legislature Friday passed a revision to the law on consumer rights and interests, the first time since the law was adopted in 1993.The Standing Committee of the 12th National People's Congress adopted the bill through a vote at its bi-monthly session, which closed Friday. The bill has been through three readings since April this year.The revision focused on better protection of rights and interests of consumers, added regulations on booming Internet shopping and tightened liabilities of business.The law came when the country has been trying to turn domestic consumption into an engine of its economic growth.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/25/2013

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JAPAN: Abe Vows to Carry Out Reforms

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed Monday his determination to go ahead with regulatory reforms in the country’s energy, agriculture and medical sectors under his economic growth strategy. In his speech at a meeting of top Asia-Pacific business leaders that began Saturday on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, Abe said he will pierce Japan’s rock-hard regulatory wall like “a drill bit.” His government will swiftly implement those reforms to reinvigorate the economy, he stressed. Abe underlined the need for intensive work to replace old business models, sectors and facilities with new ones, saying he will try to beef up growth by improving industrial “metabolism” through corporate tax breaks. On his decision to raise the consumption tax to 8 percent from the current 5 percent in April, the prime minister said restoring fiscal soundness and international confidence in Japan is crucial to its economic revival.

From http://the-japan-news.com 10/08/2013

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Ministry Adopts Anti-bullying Policy

 

An education ministry panel on Friday adopted a basic policy to deal with, and help prevent, bullying at school, calling on local governments to include external experts in new local anti-bullying bodies. The basic policy was approved at the day’s meeting of the panel. Local governments and schools are now required to map out their own policies on school bullying, the panel said. The law for the promotion of preventive steps and countermeasures against bullying, which took effect last month, allows local governments to set up committees on school bullying, comprised of members from schools, education boards and other organizations.

From http://the-japan-news.com 10/12/2013

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Govt to Ensure ‘Right to Know’ in Bill

 

The government plans to include a provision to secure the public’s right to know in a bill designed to protect state secrets, officials said Saturday. The move is in response to a demand from New Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. On Friday, Yosuke Isozaki, special adviser to the prime minister, proposed the plan to Yoshinori Oguchi, head of a New Komeito project team on the matter. The government plans to adopt the bill on Oct. 22 to strengthen punishments for public servants who leak state secrets on foreign policy and security affairs.

From http://the-japan-news.com 10/13/2013

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LDP Readies Referendum Law Revision

 

Civil servants will be allowed to express their opinions, or urge people to vote for or against amendments of the Constitution before a national referendum is conducted, but judges, prosecutors and police officers will be punished if they take advantage of their positions as civil servants for such activities, according to the Liberal Democratic Party’s draft on revisions to the National Referendum Law that stipulates procedures for constitutional amendments. Some LDP members have questioned whether court judges and others in legal and law enforcement professions should be given the freedom to make street speeches. Therefore, judges, public prosecutors and policemen were excluded. The draft was scheduled to be released at an executive meeting of the LDP’s Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision of the Constitution on Tuesday before a discussion with junior coalition partner New Komeito. The two parties were scheduled to jointly submit a revision bill to an extraordinary Diet session convened on that day. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is reportedly eager to pass the bill during the session. The draft states that voters shall be “18 years and older,” but no conclusion was made on whether the age of eligible voters from the current 20 years old should be lowered to 18 years old. On the removal of restrictions on public employees’ political activities, civil servants will be allowed to express their opinions about constitutional amendments or engage in activities to ask others to vote for or against revisions, according to the draft.

From http://the-japan-news.com 10/16/2013

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Secrets Protection Bill to Ensure Freedom of Press to Collect Info

 

The government has included a provision in a bill aimed at protecting national security secrets to ensure freedom of the media to collect information, officials said. New Komeito, which had expressed reservations about an earlier version of the bill that did not refer to the freedom of the press, said Tuesday it would now support submission of the bill to the extraordinary Diet session. “The time is almost ripe to reach an agreement. The coalition government should hold a final round of discussions,” Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi said. Komeito is the Liberal Democratic Party’s junior coalition partner. The bill, which stipulates harsher punishment for officials who leak confidential information, requires Cabinet members and others to use the designation “special secrets” to safeguard information in four fields related to national security, including defense and diplomacy. The initial bill drafted by the government did not include a reference to the right to know. Komeito expressed concern the bill might allow the government to abuse the envisaged framework. Komeito also insisted the right to collect information should be protected in addition to the freedom of press. It called for the inclusion of a provision stipulating “coverage by the media will not be subject to punishment if the law is not violated or inappropriate measures used.”

 

The government informed Komeito during talks Tuesday that the bill will include a provision to ensure the right of the press to collect information, in addition to provisions to ensure the freedom of the media and the right to know. The initial bill allowed special secrets to be kept confidential for indefinite periods. At Komeito’s request, the bill was revised to require Cabinet approval when the period exceeds 30 years. The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe considers the legislation indispensable to establish an institution similar to the U.S. National Security Council. The Japanese version of NSC would request the United States and other countries to provide information related to military affairs, terrorism and other fields. The U.S. government reportedly is concerned about the Japanese government’s flawed system of safeguarding secrets. Without substantial security information provided by the United States, the Japanese version of NSC will be ineffectual, observers said. The government will try to compromise with its coalition partner while responding to its requests.

From http://the-japan-news.com 10/17/2013

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Japanese Government Plans to Outsource Management of Some Forex Reserves

 

The government plans to outsource management of some of its foreign exchange reserves to private financial institutions, such as trust banks, as early as fiscal 2014 to boost investment returns and strengthen risk control. Hoping to tap into investment expertise of private sector financial institutions, the government will submit special account reform legislation to the ongoing extraordinary session of the Diet on Friday, sources said. Currently, the government manages all of its foreign exchange reserves in its foreign exchange special account. As of the end of September, Japan’s foreign exchange reserves totaled $1.273 trillion, the second-largest amount in the world after China. The pool has grown due to yen-selling, dollar-buying currency market intervention aimed at halting the yen’s rapid rise. Most of the reserves are currently invested in foreign bonds, such as U.S. Treasuries. The government earns interest on them and fees for lending bonds out of its holdings to banks.

 

The legislation on special account reform will call for allowing private sector financial institutions to manage some of the reserves under trust or discretionary management contracts. Under the legislation, the government would also relax the current restrictions so that it can lend bonds to brokerages in addition to banks and lift a ban on investment in derivatives trading, the sources said. To avoid excessive risk exposure, however, the government intends to limit reserves that can be outsourced to private sector management, according to the sources. It will also exercise caution before using derivatives trading. In addition to the revision to reserve management in the foreign exchange special account, the legislation would scrap the social infrastructure project special account, which chiefly manages funds for road construction, and combine three special accounts, including one to ensure stable food supply. As a result, the number of special accounts will fall to 15 from 18.

From http://www.japantimes.co.jp 10/20/2013

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Japan Prepares for New Law to Protect National Secrets

 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has prepared a new law that seeks tougher penalties for leaking classified information on defense and diplomatic issues, which critics say would curtail press freedom and curtail the public's right to know. Following are key points of the legislation, which the government aims to pass in the current session of parliament ending on December 6. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and junior coalition partner New Komeito jointly hold a majority in both chambers of parliament. - The legislation aims to protect critical national secrets in the fields of defense, diplomacy, counter-terrorism and counter-espionage from leaks by introducing harsher punishments. - The bill comes when Japan, facing with a rapidly growing China and unpredictable North Korea, is expanding its defense ties with the United States, its closest ally.

 

- Civil servants and others with access to classified information would face up to 10 years in prison if they leak "special secrets" designated under the law. That compares with the current punishment of up to one year in prison for central government employees and up to five years for defense officials or up to 10 years if the classified defense information in question originates from the United States. - The bill stipulates that freedom of the press and journalists' information-gathering activities should be duly respected, and that reporters' news-gathering activities are deemed proper conduct as long as they are aimed at serving the common good, not in violation of laws and not "grossly inappropriate". - If journalists have obtained "special secrets" through improper means not allowed under the law, they would be subject to up to five years in prison. - Heads of the administrative branch such as cabinet ministers would have the power to designate classified information that needs special protection under the law as "special secrets". - The "special secret" status would remain valid for five years and can be renewed at the end of the five-year period. Cabinet approval would be necessary to keep the status for more than 30 years.

From http://news.yahoo.com 10/25/2013

 

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SOUTH KOREA: Gov't Unveils New R&D Strategy in ICT Area

 

The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning has presented a new five-year research and development strategy in the information and communication technology (ICT) field. The strategy was devised after more than four months of related discussion between around 120 ICT experts.The experts suggested ten key technologies and 15 key services for the ministry to pursue under the mid-term plan. The ten key technologies cover areas such as hologram, big data and smart network. The 15 key services include disaster forecast services and digital business support for small businesses.The ministry plans to draw up a final version of the plan within this month after gathering opinions at a public hearing. 

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/01/2013

 

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INDONESIA: Mulling Further Developing Geothermal Power - Minister

 

Indonesia needes to further develop renewable energy projects, particularly geothermal power plants, to address the sustainable development drive and cope with increasing demand on electricity, the country's energy minister said on Sunday. Energy Minister Jero Wacik said Sunday that despite the abundance of geothermal deposit in the country, Indonesia is yet to adequately tap the energy source. Jero added that government needs more cooperation with investors to do so as investment in geothermal energy was too expensive to be financed by the government only. He said that government only allocated 2 trillion rupiah (about 173.5 million U.S. dollars) from a total of 16 trillion rupiah ( about 1.3 billion U.S. dollars) initially allocated to finance the development of renewable energy projects. "The existing geothermal energy projects that have been running in the country were Kamojang and Wayang Windu in West Java. Indonesia has many potential geothermal places to be explored and transferred to energy that would be very useful for people across the country," the minister told reporters at the launch of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) program in Indonesia and Southeast Asia region held on the sidelines of the ongoing APEC events here. The launching was conducted by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono by sounding the kul-kul, traditional Bali's bamboo alarming drum in the event. Jero said that that increasing the number of geothermal power plants has long been planned by the government as it projected to have 9,500 MW of electricity production from geothermal by 2025, or 5 percent of the country's energy mix. "This aim was to address sustainable development drive, coping with increasing need on electricity in the future in line with fast-growing number of middle class society from 45 million at present to 135 million in 2030," the minister added. As its territory sits on the Pacific volcano vault line, Indonesia has plenty of volcanoes that offer great geothermal energy resource. Reports said that Indonesia deposits as many as 27,000 MW of geothermal energy, the largest in the world.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/06/2013

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Indonesian City Adopts “Green City” Programme

 

The East Java regency of Bojonegoro is working together with the Geospatial Information Agency to adopt a green city programme called “Ina-GRES” (Indonesian Green and Resilient Cities) in a bid to help the local government better manage its natural resources. Bojonegoro is located in the inland part of northern Java plain, on the banks of the Bengawan Solo river, the largest river in Java. It is home to more than 1.1 million people. While it’s popularly known as a major producer of a wide array of agricultural products, a recent discovery of a new oil field which has been touted as the biggest reserve in Indonesia has put Bojonegoro in the spotlight. According to Bojonegoro Regent H. Suyoto, while Bojonegoro is abundant with natural resources, much needs to be done to address floods threatening the livelihood and homes in many districts. “As a national granary, Bojonegoro has a lot of potential, which we would like to leverage with the help of the Geospatial Information Agency. We need GIS and geospatial information to better manage our resources and help us not only in keeping track of the money we spend, but also find out where it is going and whether we’re achieving our development goals.” Meanwhile, Yusuf Surachman, Deputy Head of the Geospatial Information Agency, presented how the Ina-Geoportal integrates geospatial data from various authoritative sources to help policy makers arrive at well-informed decisions. “At present, we have 25 government agencies and institutions sharing their data in the Ina-Geoportal. These agencies include the Ministry of Transport, Public Works, Environment and many others,” he said. “Through this partnership, the local government of Bojonegoro can now be equipped with spatial capabilities to help them in their natural resource management, environmental protection and disaster mitigation strategies.”

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/14/2013

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CAMBODIA: PM Unveils 5-Year Strategy, Vowing Deep Reforms

 

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday announced his new government's five-year strategy, vowing to deepen reforms in all fields to ensure sustainable growth and poverty reduction. "Reforms are the top priority for Cambodia and the country will continue deepening reforms in all fields in order to increase competitions, to sustain economic growth and to reduce poverty," the premier said at the launching of the government's Rectangular Strategy in Phase III during the first cabinet meeting at the Peace Palace. He said deep reforms would be focused on legal and judicial reforms, anti-corruption, good governance, and land and forest management. The strategy set out the government's intention to build the Cambodian society by strengthening peace, stability and social order, promoting sustainable and equitable development, and entrenching democracy and respect for human rights and dignity, the premier said. "The launching of the strategy expresses the government's strong commitment to ensuring sustainable development and poverty alleviation," he said.

 

During the meeting, Hun Sen also warned some of his cabinet members of their arrogant behavior or habitat of power abuse toward their lower-level officials and people. "There will be no a tolerance toward any wrong-doing ministers in this term," he said. The premier's warning came after the public has criticized state's ministries and institutions for cronyism and family-ism. Chheang Vannarith, a lecturer at the Leeds University in the Britain, said judicial reform was the most urgent task for the current Cambodian government in order to build confidence among common people and business community. "Moreover, anti-corruption unit needs to operate independently so that it can effectively address the chronic and widespread corruption in the country," he told Xinhua on Wednesday, adding that the salaries for the government officials and factory workers have to be increased to meet the increasing cost of living. The parliament, formed by the ruling party's 68 lawmakers, on Tuesday voted for Hun Sen as the prime minister of a new government even though the opposition's 55 legislators boycotted the session since it refused to accept the results of the July 28 election.

 

According to the constitution, the new government was formed by a 50 percent plus one majority, or 63 lawmakers, in the parliament. Hun Sen, 61, who has been in power for 28 years, was sworn in for another five-year term on Tuesday afternoon. However, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) announced Wednesday that it did not recognize the Hun Sen-led government. "Our stance is that we do not recognize the government that was formed earlier this week, it was a violation of the constitution and against the principle of multi-party liberal democracy," CNRP' s President Sam Rainsy said in a press briefing at the party's headquarters. "We cannot cooperate in any image with this government." He warned to call another protest for factory workers, civil servants and shopkeepers if the ruling party does not agree to an independent poll probe committee into alleged electoral fraud. Sam Rainsy also called on the international community to condemn the newly-formed government and urged big foreign investors to ignore the country.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 09/25/2013

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MYANMAR: Moving Ahead with Constitution Amendment

 

Myanmar's Constitution Review Joint Committee invited advice and suggestions from a wide range of stakeholders on Thursday for review on amendment of the 2008 State Constitution. According to the committee's statement, assessment and advice will be sought from the legislative, administrative and judicial pillars through the parliament and those from political parties, organizations and individuals through respective parliament representatives. The committee set the deadline for Nov. 15 for submission of such advice and assessment. The committee claimed that it has carried out three tasks laid down by the parliament, that is, to ensure the emergence of a constitution which can further guarantee the perpetuation, stability and peace and development of Myanmar in accordance with the current age and system; to bring eternal peace to all national races and ethnic people through building a national unity among them; and to carry on democratic reform. The 109-member Constitution Review Joint Committee was set up in July with the Deputy Speaker of the Union Parliament as its chairman. The committee members are represented proportionally by parliament members of both Houses, political parties, military MPs and individuals. The set-up of the committee was seen as a more to seek solution to the constitution issue in preparation for the 2015 general election.

 

Myanmar's House of Representative, or Lower House agreed in March to a proposal to form a committee comprising multi-party representatives for reviewing the 2008 Constitution and make necessary amendment on it. The proposal, which said the current constitution is no longer in line with the present era, was submitted by Thura U Aye Myint, an MP from the Wetlat Constituency, who is also Vice Chairman of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). The 194-page 15-chapter Republic of the Union of Myanmar Constitution 2008, drafted in accordance with the detailed basic principles laid down by the National Convention, was promulgated in May 2008 after a nationwide referendum. The constitution reserves 25 percent of the parliamentary seats at three levels for non-elected or directly-nominated MPs from the military in addition to the elected MPs. Under that constitution, a multi-party democracy general election was held in November 2010, in which the USDP won the majority of the parliamentary seats with its then party chairman U Thein Sein being elected as President of the new civilian government who took office in March 2011. In 2012, the government amended the party registration law, re- legalizing the opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi. The NLD took part in the by-elections on April 1 in the year, winning 43 out of 45 open parliamentary seats, of which 37, including Suu Kyi, are with the Lower House.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/04/2013

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Myanmar Drafts National Energy Policy

 

Myanmar is drafting a national energy policy which meets international standard and comprehensive suggestions from development partnership organizations and experts are being invited for the draft, official media reported Wednesday. Myanmar Vice President U Nyan Tun told the National Energy Management Committee that socio-economic development of the country cannot achieve success as expected not because of the lack of reliable energy supply triggered by shortage of investment in power sector and inadequate infrastructure and human resources necessary to utilize sustainable energy resources but because of limitation on investment on renewable energy sector. Development of new technology for electrical and electronic appliances and power-generating facilities requires sustainable investment, energy conservation measures and cost-effectiveness energy saving, he said. The president stressed the need to take effective measures based on technology inspection report while ensuring energy sufficiency for a short period of time and electrification process. He also emphasized the need to use effective laws and electricity purchase agreements meeting international norms in the private sector of electricity generating. According to official statistics, power sector is leading in foreign investment with 19.237 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for about 45 percent of the total as of July 2013 since 1988 when the country started to open to such investment.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/23/2013

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PHILIPPINES: Post Introduces Electronic Postal Money Order

 

The Philippine Postal Corporation (PhlPost), a state-owned enterprise providing postal services in the Philippines, is making it easier for citizens to send money anywhere in the country with its electronic postal money order. The e-postal money order service is an electronic remittance system that will facilitate fund transfers through an instant pay-out process. Aside from its real time characteristic that allows faster transmission, this service is also accessible and does not require complicated identification processes. According to PhlPost, the postal service will leverage its vast network of postal branches nationwide to deliver the fastest, most affordable and hassle-free electronic money order transaction. In addition, the service is also the new service can also interface with Universal Postal Union-member countries, EUROGIRO members, and duly licensed money remittance companies, local and foreign international banks. Furthermore, PhlPost revealed plans to implement an electronic money order facility that will cater both domestic and international remittances.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/23/2013

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SINGAPORE: Issuing Guidelines on Personal Data Protection

 

Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Commission issued guidelines this week to elaborate and provide interpretations on specific requirements and obligations under the Personal Data Protection Act. PDPA, that was first announced last October and to come into full effect from 2 July 2014, establishes a new general data protection law in Singapore, which governs the collection, use and disclosure of individuals’ personal data by organisation. Organisations are required to designate at least one Data Protection Officer to oversee the organisation’s compliance with the act. The guidelines provide interpretation of key terms. For example, ‘personal data’ is all types of data from which an individual can be identified, regardless of whether such data is true or false or whether it is in electronic or other form. The guidelines also elaborate on the Data Protection Provisions and various obligations in the PDPA, for example, the obligation to obtain the consent of an individual before collecting, using or disclosing his personal data, and to notify the individual of the purpose of doing so.

 

The national Do-Not-Call Registry will be set up by 2 January 2014, and organisations that wish to send specified messages - including those of a marketing nature for commercial purposes - to an individual with a Singapore telephone number must check with the registry to obtain consent of the individual. The advisory guidelines elaborate on how the PDPA applies to specific issues and domains. Data for research, collection of personal data through Closed-Circuit Televisions, and use of National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) numbers, are some of the topics highlighted in these guidelines. As best practice, organisations should avoid over-collecting personal data and consider suitable alternatives for their requirements (e.g. using an individual’s unique membership number and date of birth instead of NRIC number to verify his identity). “The Advisory Guidelines aim to provide greater clarity to organisations and individuals on the provisions of the PDPA. For businesses, it is important that they prepare in advance and review their own operations and processes to comply with the provisions. The PDPC is also working with sectoral regulators to develop sector-specific guidelines, and will review the need to issue further guidelines to facilitate better understanding of and compliance with the PDPA obligations,” said Leong Keng Thai (pictured), Chairman of PDPC.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/26/2013

 

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THAILAND: Reform Initiative - Phongthep Expects Quick Progress

 

Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana is looking for rapid progress in the political reform initiative, with the three panels expected to complete their assignments this year. The political, economic and social subcommittees are collecting reform proposals for assessment.  In a FM92.5 interview, Phongthep insisted that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was sincere about reform. The political reform committee, chaired by Banharn Silapa-archa, a former prime minister and chief adviser of the Chart Thai Pattana Party, will consider all suggestions to ensure a successful outcome, he said.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 10/21/2013

 

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VIETNAM: Education Technology Programme Goes National

 

After a successful pilot, Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) will expand its education technology programme across the entire country, according to local media. The education technology programme is currently being used in 37 provinces and cities nationwide for 200,000 first graders. Professor Ho Ngoc Dai, whose research guided the programme at its inception 35 years ago, is pleased about the growing adoption of the programme and the expansion nationwide. The benefits of the programme and a successful pilot has prompted this decision, according to Deputy Minister of Education Nguyen Vinh Hien. The programme was first applied in 1978 at the Hanoi Experiment Secondary School under the supervision of the Education Science Institute. It quickly expanded to other schools from 1990, and reached 43 provinces and cities by 2000. While the Ministry officially stopped the programme in 2001 in a bid to standardise curriculum and textbooks nationwide, the programme continued to grow organically. In 2008, for example, Lao Cai province in the north and Tay Ninh, Kon Tum, Kien Giang, Dak Lak and An Giang in the south adopted the programme.

 

According to Nguyen An Ninh, Director of the Lao Cai Education and Training Department, it was a “daring move” to adopt the programme at that time as it was going against the instructions of MOET. Sometime between 2010 and 2011, MOET returned the autonomy to schools to decide on first grade curriculum for teaching the Vietnamese language, as long as the Ministry was kept informed. The education technology programme was first applied in four districts of Muong Khuong, Simacai, Bao Yen and Bao Thang. It significantly improved the learning of Vietnamese language by the ethnic minority students. “Once the ethnic minority students have better Vietnamese language skills, it better facilitates the learning of other subjects,” commented Trieu Thi Hoa Dao, Headmaster of the Trinh Tuong Primary School No. 1 in Bat Xat, a rural district of Lao Cai province. Kien Giang, a province with 1.7 million population, now applies the education technology programme at 62 primary schools, while Nam Dinh, a province in northern Vietnam with 1.83 million people, has adopted for all of its primary schools. In Hai Duong, another Northern province with 1.7 million residents, the programme has been used widely in two districts, and at some other schools in other districts.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/30/2013

 

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BANGLADESH: Bill Passed to Drop Convicts from Electoral Roll

 

Parliament on Sunday passed a bill, ‘Voters List (2nd Amendment) Bill 2013’, to drop from the electoral roll those convicted under Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunals) Order or International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973. Law Minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed moved the bill in the House amending the Voters List Act 2009 in absence of the opposition MPs, which was later passed through voice vote. As per the ‘Voters’ List (2nd Amendment) Bill 2013’, the names of the voters will have to be deleted from the electoral roll on four specific grounds – if the voter does not have Bangladesh citizenship, if the voter is declared insane by any court, if convicted on any crime charge under Bangladesh Collaborators (Special Tribunals) Order and International Crimes (Tribunals) Act, 1973. Earlier, on September 16, the bill was introduced in the House, and it was sent to the parliamentary standing committee on the Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs ministry for scrutiny. The new law will disqualify as voters those who are now being convicted under International Crime Tribunals.

From http://unbconnect.com 10/06/2013

 

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Bill Passed to Ensure Harsher Punishment for Food Adulteration

 

A bill, titled ‘Safe Food Bill, 2013’, seeking to ensure safe food in the country, was passed in Parliament on Monday keeping a provision of maximum five years imprisonment or Tk 10 lakh fine or both for adulteration of food. Food Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque moved the Bill in Parliament that was passed by voice vote. Under the proposed law, an institutional framework will be established to ensure food safety. Besides, a Food Safety Advisory Council, headed by the Food Minister, will be constituted and a safe food authority to be established, while there will be detailed lists of activities which are harmful to health. There will be arrangements of food testing as well. In the proposed Bill, there are detailed description of food adulteration and the punishment to deal with that. It also mentioned that if the any person commits the same kind of offence for second time the punishment would be double.

From http://unbconnect.com 10/07/2013

 

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New ICT Law Aimed at Gagging Oppn Voice BNP

 

Criticising the government for passing the Information and Communication Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2013, opposition BNP on Wednesday alleged that the law is aimed at suppressing the opposition and other critics. “The government has made the ICT law to gag the voice and opinions of the opposition and thus reestablish one-party Baksal rule,” said BNP acting secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi. The BNP leader came up with the allegation at a press briefing at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office. On October 6, parliament passed the unassailable bill, ‘Information and Communication Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2013’, providing harsher punishments for the abuse of information technology. According to the amended bill, the jail term for the abuse of the ICT Act has been extended to minimum seven years and maximum 14 years against maximum 10 years of the ‘ICT Act 2006’. Besides, the police have been given the authority to arrest anyone without arrest warrant, and the offence is termed nonbailable.

 

As per the amended law, permission will not be required from the Home Ministry to file any case against such offender, which was mandatory in the previous law. Terming the law a fascist one, Rizvi said the government will harass people using the law in the name of maintaining law and order. Rizvi also demanded the immediate release of National University teacher Wahiduzzaman reportedly arrested under the law for posting a status on Facebook defaming the family members of the Prime Minister. He also alleged that the government is harassing Barrister Fakhrul Islam, the counsel for the condemned convict BNP standing committee member Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, over the leak of the verdict of the International Crimes Tribunal-1. Mentioning that the government also harassing Khulna divisional BNP leader Moshiur Rahman by filing a ‘false’ case against him, Rizvi said the BNP leaders are being harassed to resist the opposition’s movement seeking restoration of the caretaker government system. “But the government won’t be able to resist us by resorting to harassment, attack and filing false cases against opposition leaders and activists,” he added.

From http://unbconnect.com 10/15/2013

 

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INDIA: Telecom Department Accepts TRAI’s Floor Price Plan

 

The Telecom Department has accepted the sector regulator’s proposal slashing the floor price of 2G spectrum by 37 percent, but has sought suggestions on the base price for bandwidth in the 800 Mhz band, indicating that it doesn’t agree with the recommendations of no auction in that band. The news will bring cheer to a debt-laden telecom industry which has been clamoring for a reduction in the price of airwaves. Most of the mobile phone operators had abstained from the last two rounds of auctions, citing exorbitant prices. Apart from the suggested cuts in the base price for spectrum in the 1800 Mhz band, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had also suggested a 60 percent cut in the reserve price of airwaves in the 900 Mhz band for three circles where licences are coming up for renewal next year.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 10/01/2013

 

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Union Cabinet Clears Bill to Give Statutory Status to UIDAI

 

Government of India approved National Identification Authority of India Bill with some amendments which will provide statutory status to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Besides giving statutory status to the UIDAI, the Bill seeks to provide legal backing to Aadhaar, which is used by ministries, departments and states to disburse subsidies. At present, the UIDAI operates through an executive order.The new law seeks to create a National Identification Authority of India, which will oversee implementation of the Aadhaar project. It also seeks to define penalties in case of misuse of data collected under the project. The Amended Bill also addresses the issue of whether the UIDAI can enroll all residents or Indian nationals only.“The Aadhaar number can be issued to any resident, including foreign national. It does not confer any rights regarding citizenship or domicile or any other right as per Section 6 of the Bill,” said an official. Another amendment permits the UIDAI to share data with authorities without explicit consent of those holding the aadhaar numbers if the Central government so mandates it under specific directions or if another law requires data sharing. The government has contended that issues of data leakage can be handled under general laws such as the Information Technology Act, 2010.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 10/09/2013

 

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West Bengal Plans to Modernise Legal System

 

The State of West Bengal, revealed plans to modernise the case monitoring system of its legal department in a bid to address inefficiencies in several paper-based administrative processes. According to an official statement, because of the paper-based system officials reported that they have been dealing with issues such as misplaced documents, and instances when government officials and lawyers fail to show up in court, leading to the court passing a judgement in favor of the petitioner. As response to this, the National Informatics Centre will be helping the State to move away from its paper-based “predicament” by rolling out a software-based system to monitor all cases and dispose pending cases as early as possible. “The state government is going to start a software based court case monitoring system so that they can properly handle cases that are filed against the state government. Moreover it will help to quickly dispose of pending cases and for that the state government is taking the help of the NIC,” said an official of the state legal department.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 10/16/2013

 

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SRI LANKA: Govt to Present Appropriation Bill for 2014 to Parliament This Week

 

The government will present the Appropriation Bill for 2014 to parliament this week. The Appropriation Bill according to government sources will be presented to the House when sessions commence on Tuesday, October 22. President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his capacity as Finance Minister will present the 2014 Budget to parliament on November 21. The debate on the second reading of the Budget will commence the following day and continue till November 29. The Committee Stage debate of the Appropriation Bill will continue till December 20, with the final vote scheduled for that day. Members from trade unions, youth organizations, business and professional bodies and the public have presented proposals to the Finance Ministry to be included in the 2014 Budget. According to the government, the 2014 budget is looking at bringing down the deficit to 5.2 percent from 6.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.

From http://www.priu.gov.lk 10/21/2013

 

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Massive Development Projects Will Be Initiated in Sri Lanka in Future – President

 

Massive development projects will be initiated in Sri Lanka in future in addition to the current projects, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday. President Rajapaksa has made these remarks during a meeting with the ruling party parliamentarians held Tuesday at the Temple Trees to obtain their ideas and suggestions to formulate the 2014 budget. The government presented the 2014 Appropriation Bill with an estimated expenditure of 2.54 trillion rupees in parliament today. The discussion focused on future programs that will be implemented in highways, power, tourism, rural industries, health, and education sectors. Special focus was on the programs in the agriculture sector. The parliamentarians have suggested development projects that need to be carried out in their respective electorates and also offered views on the programs that should be implemented at the national level in the next budget. President Rajapaksa held discussions with the divisional secretaries on Monday to obtain their views and suggestions for the 2014 budget. The President in his capacity as the Minister of Finance had held 12 rounds of discussions with representatives from all sectors in formulating the next year's budget. Ministers Sarath Amunugama and Basil Rajapaksa, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, and Secretary to the Finance Ministry Dr. P. B. Jayasundera were also present at the discussion.

From http://www.priu.gov.lk 10/23/2013

 

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NEPAL: Govt Launches Plan of Action for 'Holistic Development' of Adolescent Population

 

The National Plan of Action (NPA) on Holistic Development of Adolescents was launched by National Planning Commission amidst a function in the capital to celebrate the second International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC) on Thursday. “Nepal has an adolescent population of 6.4 million, accounting for about a fourth (24.19%) of the total national population of 26.49 million . Most of the development work does not have a clear strategy for the steps to address the comprehensive health, development and participation of the individual in the second decade of life. Hence the investment made in the first decade of life might be wasted if the second decade is not well addressed,” according to a statement issued on the occasion. Acknowledging that adolescents (10 -19 years) is a group that requires focused attention to meet their specific development needs, help them understand their rights, and engage them in addressing the existing challenges, Government of Nepal envisioned and prepared the multi-sectoral NPA for holistic adolescent development.

 

More than 2000 adolescents and 1000 adult stakeholders from all over the country were consulted during the drafting and finalization of the NPA. An inter-ministerial task team under the leadership of the National Planning Commission also supported the process, along with organizations such as UNICEF, UNFPA, CWIN, Save the Children, Plan Nepal, ILO, Consortium of Organizations Working for Child Participation and others. Once implemented, the NPA will create an enabling policy environment, develop a sensitive and responsive system, and streamline coordinated efforts to address the harmful social norms, challenges, and development needs of adolescents, the statement added. The IDGC is marked on 11 October to celebrate and promote the rights of girls, as well as address the unique challenges they face. Due to the upcoming Dashain festivities, it was celebrated on 4 October this year.

 

Based on the global theme of "Innovating for Girls’ Education" for this year's IDGC celebrations, a round table dialogue was organized between adolescents and policymakers about their dream learning environment and innovations in education for them. The round table dialogue was followed by the IDGC celebration which was graced by Honourable Vice-Chair of National Planning Commission, Dr. Rabindra Kumar Shakya. He reiterated that National Planning Commission is fully committed to provide its full support to coordinate and create a conducive environment to realize the aspirations set by the NPA for the holistic development of adolescents of Nepal. The celebrations included the unveiling of the Nepali version of the "Girl Effect video" and the display of photo stories by adolescent girls on their dream learning environment.

 

On this occasion, Hanaa Singer, UNICEF Nepal Representative shared that more girls are in school today than ever before, and the world has achieved tremendous progress in getting girls into primary school. But our work in educating girls remains unfinished. Innovation has the power to achieve and elevate our ambitions for girls’ education so she urged international and local communities and governments to step up their efforts through renewed commitment and innovative solutions to girls' education. The campaign theme for IDGC is on lighting the Diyo which symbolizes showing commitment from all concerned for making the future of adolescents bright and prosperous. This year, the Diyo lighting event is being organized in many districts under the coordination of Women and Children Offices. Every individual and household is being urged to light a diyo on 11th October (25 Ashwin) to support empowerment of adolescents in Nepal.

From http://www.nepalnews.com 10/13/2013

 

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PAKISTAN: Punjab Plans Security Steps for Moharram

 

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif, on Saturday chairing a meeting on Moharram Security formed a committee chaired by Law Minister Rana Sanaullah. He asked the committee members to tour the province and see that security measures were properly introduced. He stated that his helicopter was available for the members Shahbaz vowed that enhanced and affective security measures would be adopted for security in coming Moharam Chief Secretary, Home Secretary and IG Police gave a briefing on security to the CM on the occasion.

From http://www.brecorder.com 10/20/2013

 

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AZERBAIJAN: E-Textbooks Portal to Be Launched

 

The Azerbaijani State Students Admission Commission and Education Ministry work on establishing a portal of electronic textbooks. Changes in the Azerbaijani textbooks can be introduced once in four years based on the findings generated by the results of scientific-methodical monitoring of textbooks and teaching aids. The portal will be created prior to the publication of new textbooks given the importance to continuous improvement. It will post the final conclusions of monitoring and the guidance materials for teachers working with the textbooks. The electronic resource will also share opinions of the textbook authors and experts, involved in the monitoring. Subject teachers might also join discussions of new textbooks, which are prepared on the basis of new educational programs. Some 13 new textbooks and manuals, including electronic versions of 17,800 copies in total, were prepared and published in Azerbaijan for the new 2013-2014 academic year. Moreover, 139 textbooks and guidance for teacher of II, IV, VI, VIII, IX and XI classes was prepared, published and distributed for this academic year. Earlier this year, the Education Ministry developed a new state program on education system informatisation for 2013-2020. Currently, one personal computer accounts for 16 students in Azerbaijan. The index is expected to be reached one computer per five students in the near future. ICT is also applied in the education system of the country. An internet education portal for schoolchildren, www.oxu.tv, was opened in Azerbaijan in February 2013. The project envisions broadcasting video lessons, which will cover all school subjects taught in Azerbaijani schools and strengthen the basis of secondary education in Azerbaijan.

From http://www.azernews.az/ 10/11/2013

 

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Railway Modernization Intensified in Azerbaijan

 

Azerbaijan Railways company plans to complete modernizing and reconstructing a 317-km Baku-Boyuk Kesik section by late 2013, the head of the company Arif Asgarov told media today. "Around 282 kilometers of the railway have been repaired in the west direction," he said. "It is planned that the operations will be completed within the project by the end of the year." As for the Baku- Tbilisi -Kars project, Asgarov said that the operations within this project are carried out in accordance with a prescribed schedule. It is planned to put it into operation in 2014. Asgarov said that the operations are underway to modernize the rolling-stock. In particular, Baku received 46 out of 60 carriages transported for overhaul to Ukraine, while the company received 6 of 16 carriages transported for repair to the Russian Federation. Asgarov stressed that the repaired carriages are used in Baku -Moscow, Baku-Kharkov, Baku -Tbilisi and domestic Baku- Balakan lines. As for the illegal construction along the railways, Asgarov added that their total number is 2,800, of which 538 are non-residential and other construction - residential. The relevant decision on the illegal construction will be made by the leadership of the country , he said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/13/2013

 

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Azerbaijan Set Up Children's Paralympic Movement as Part of New Strategy

 

October 1 - A new children's Paralympic Movement is to be set-up in Azerbaijan to try to help encourage more youngsters with disabilities take up sport. The scheme was approved by the National Paralympic Committee of Azerbaijan Republic at a meeting of its ruling Executive Board in Baku, following resolution that had originally been passed in August. Azerbaijani officials claim that the project will help to integrate disabled children into the society. Ilham Zakiyev, a judoka who is blind and winner of three Paralympic medals, including gold at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, presented medals to the first participants at a special ceremony.  They were nine-year-old Murad Mammadov, like him a judoka, and 14-year-old Alivahid Zeynally, a fencer. The new scheme is a key part of a strategic plan designed to help Azerbaijan prepare for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The plan also includes expansion of the Para-sport in all regions of the country, helping fund athletes prepare for major competitions and the expansion of relations with other international sports organisations. Azerbaijan made their debut in the Paralympics at Atlanta 1996, when they were represented by just two athletes. They won their first medal at Sydney four years later, a silver for Yelena Taranova in the mixed free pistol SH1, and their first gold at Athens 2004, Oleg Panyutin, in the F12 long jump. That was followed by a gold medal for Zakiyev in the over 100 kilogram category, a title he retained at Beijing 2008, one of two victories for Azerbaijan at those Games. At London 2012 21 athletes competed in six sports with Azerbaijan finished 27th overall with a total of 12 medals, including four gold.

From http://www.insidethegames.biz/ 10/20/2013

 

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KYRGYZSTAN: Announcing Initiative to Establish Tourist Union of Central Asia

 

Kyrgyzstan has announced an initiative on establishment of Tourist Union of Central Asia countries, the Tourism Department under the Culture Ministry informed. According to its data, the initiative was announced in a course of working out a strategy of tourism sustainable development of the Silk Road’s heritage corridors in Almaty city of the Kazakh Republic.  “Countries all over the world are joining in unions for increase in competitiveness of tourism sector. Thus, tourist unions of the South-East Asia, Latin America, island states, Arab region and Europe countries were created in such way. A uniting factor of this is that modern tourists prefer such tours, which combine visiting several countries with different cultures, historical and geographical peculiarities.A tour throughout the whole region looks much more attractive,” the idea initiators consider. Colleagues from Kazakhstan and Tajikistan supported the initiative of the Kyrgyz Tourism Department. They decided to hold a working conference on this topic in Kyrgyzstan in 2014. Besides, the Kyrgyz Tourism Department stated that there was achieved an agreement of resumption of Tashkent-Balykchy tourist train at the fair in Tashkent on October 10.

From http://eng.24.kg/ 10/12/2013

 

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TURKMENISTAN: Economic Policy Discussed at High Level

 

At a regular meeting of Turkmenistan's Council of Elders in Dashoguz with the country's president, issues of implementation of state economic policy were discussed, a source participating at the event said. The head of the state called this occasion as "the most important socio-political action" for the country. The Turkmen president Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov stressed that for bringing the national industry to new, high level of compatibility in the domestic and foreign markets, innovative approaches in organization and production are necessary. Turkmenistan holds one of the key positions in the region for natural gas supply. Its importers are Russia,China and Iran. Meanwhile, the country's leadership has taken a course for the diversification of economy; the spheres such as oil and gas processing, textile industry, cotton processing industry and production of construction materials develop in recent years. The growth rates of Turkmenistan's GDP increased by over two times during in recent five years. As of 2012, the comparable growth rate of this indicator hit 11.1 per cent. High enough growth rates are kept this year - 9.9 per cent.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/23/2013

 

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UZBEKISTAN: Under Review by the UN Committee Against Torture - Report on Uzbekistan’s Implementation of the CAT

 

Ahead of the review of Uzbekistan by the UN Commitee against Torture which will take place on 29 October 2013, the Uzbek Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law (UBHRRL), with the support of FIDH, published a report on "Uzbekistan’s Implementation of the CAT". Despite the fact that Uzbekistan ratified the UN Convention against Torture (CAT) in 1995 and has since submitted four reports to the UN, torture remains a systemic practice. The report provides responses to the list of issues published by the UN Committee and reviews Uzbekistan’s implementation of the Committee’s most recent concluding observations. It looks at Uzbekistan’s definition of torture, the overall attitude of the authorities, the impact of the habeas corpus (introduced in 2008) on prevention of torture. It further reviews the independence of the judiciary, the right to complain about torture and the right of access to a lawyer. Finally, the document analyses the situation of human rights defenders working against torture in Uzbekistan and the use of torture in the "war of terror".

From http://www.fidh.org/ 10/15/2013

 

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AUSTRALIA: Getting New Mobile Privacy Guide

 

Addressing privacy concerns among smartphone users, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has recommended that app developers take a ‘privacy by design’ approach starting from the early stages of app development. Around six in 10 Australians cite concerns about the way personal information would be used for not using a smartphone app. In response, the OAIC on Monday came out with the ‘Mobile privacy: A better practice guide for mobile app developers’. Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, says the mobile app development industry presents potential benefits to users, but also serious risks to the handling of personal data. To make sure the app is privacy-friendly, developers should embed privacy protection in the app design starting right from early development, Pilgrim suggests. The Guide also recommends that developers use brief privacy notices in place of lengthy ones which are difficult to read on a small screen.

 

“People are increasingly expecting transparency about how their personal information is handled. It’s important to get informed consent from people so they can decide whether or not to install an app,” Pilgrim says. “Informed consent requires that users be told about the privacy implications of an app in a way they can understand. App developers should make it easy by using things like a privacy dashboard and in-text notices where you tell users what will happen with their information in real time,” he adds. Pilgrim recommended that mobile app developers operating in the Australian market be aware of how Australian privacy regulations apply, in order to avoid risks of violating the law. “It is ultimately in an app developer’s best interest to build strong privacy protections into their product. The mobile apps that take privacy seriously will be the ones that stand out from the crowd and gain user trust and loyalty,” he concludes.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 10/02/2013

 

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Australian Information Commissioner Releases Mobile Privacy Guide

 

Addressing privacy concerns among smartphone users, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has recommended that app developers take a ‘privacy by design’ approach starting from the early stages of app development. Around six in 10 Australians cite concerns about the way personal information would be used for not using a smartphone app. In response, the OAIC on Monday came out with the ‘Mobile privacy: A better practice guide for mobile app developers’. Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, says the mobile app development industry presents potential benefits to users, but also serious risks to the handling of personal data. To make sure the app is privacy-friendly, developers should embed privacy protection in the app design starting right from early development, Pilgrim suggests. The Guide also recommends that developers use brief privacy notices in place of lengthy ones which are difficult to read on a small screen.

 

“People are increasingly expecting transparency about how their personal information is handled. It’s important to get informed consent from people so they can decide whether or not to install an app,” Pilgrim says. “Informed consent requires that users be told about the privacy implications of an app in a way they can understand. App developers should make it easy by using things like a privacy dashboard and in-text notices where you tell users what will happen with their information in real time,” he adds. Pilgrim recommended that mobile app developers operating in the Australian market be aware of how Australian privacy regulations apply, in order to avoid risks of violating the law. “It is ultimately in an app developer’s best interest to build strong privacy protections into their product. The mobile apps that take privacy seriously will be the ones that stand out from the crowd and gain user trust and loyalty,” he concludes.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 10/02/2013

 

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No Plan to Privatise Assets: Qld Govt

 

THE Queensland government says it has no plans to privatise two of its water and energy assets, despite reports it has engaged investment banks to investigate possible benefits. Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls says the government isn't looking to privatise SunWater or Powerlink. However, he did say the government needed to look at different ways to reduce debt in the tough economic climate. "The Government has always maintained that it would investigate ways to finance capital expenditure into the future, without increasing debt and ultimately the burden on Queensland taxpayers," Mr Nicholls said in a statement. "Business as usual is not an option and the government is working towards repairing the state's finances to ease the tax burden and reduce debt." The Australian Financial Review reported on Saturday that Macquarie Group had been engaged to assess Sunwater, while Rothschild would run a scoping study on Powerlink. The Queensland government has repeatedly denied it plans to sell off public assets. However The Commission of Audit report, authored by former treasurer Peter Costello, recommended major asset sales to return the state's Triple A credit rating. In April, the government adopted 75 per cent of the report's 155 recommendations, but ruled out privatising the state's energy assets.

From http://www.news.com.au 10/26/2013

 

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FIJI: Government Clarifies Digital Broadcasting Plan

 

The Fijian government has written to Fiji Television Ltd seeking explanations on an announcement it made that the company will soon be going on a transition to Digital broadcast platform. Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says, government isn’t happy as there was no consultation held with the relevant authorities before the announcement was made. “They wilfully misled there stakeholders, including their shareholders as to the timing and plan for their transition. Government has been announcing since last year that the transition, from analogue to digital broadcast will be overseen by a holistic and coordinated migration plan." FijiTV had announced it will move their transmission to digital frequencies. This will mean, all Fijians will be required to switch to the FijiTV digital platform in order to get its signals. Sayed-Khaiyum says, this is not an easy and cheap task.

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com 10/03/2013

 

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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Pushing Integrity Bill to Ensure Political Stability

 

The Solomon Islands Government wants to pass a bill before next year's election which will stop members changing political allegiance mid-term. The Solomon Islands Government says it wants to pass a bill before next year's election which will stop members changing political allegiance mid-term. The Political Integrity Bill, which has been in existence since 2010, would end the practice of MPs switching their allegiance mid-term in pursuit of a better position in a new coalition. But dispute numerous efforts, successive governments have not been able to get approval for the bill. Last week Solomon Islands' Prime Minister Gordon Darkie Lila withdrew the bill from parliament when it became obvious its sister bill - changing the constitution to allow the introduction of the Integrity Bill - did not have the support of two-thirds of the 50-seat House. Attorney General Billyo Titiulu told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat that lawmakers are now looking at changing the bill, to allow its introduction without a constitutional change later this year.

"You could establish an independent commission, where that doesn't need a constitutional amendment." he said. "We want to have it so that it becomes operational before the end of 2014." Mr Titiulu says the government believes the bill is necessary to ensure political stability.

From http://www.radioaustralia.net.au 10/10/2013

 

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Asia Must Step Up Governance Reforms to Sustain Growth and Development

 

Asia and the Pacific’s economic gains must be matched by stepped-up efforts on governance so that growth benefits can be more evenly shared and development progress locked in, says a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report. “Progress on good governance has lagged well behind the region’s economic achievements and there has been little headway in closing the governance gap with advanced economies,” said ADB Chief Economist Changyong Rhee. “There is abundant global evidence to show that governance improvements correlate strongly with faster and more inclusive growth, higher investment, and more rapid poverty reduction.” The theme chapter of the update of ADB’s flagship annual economic publication, Asian Development Outlook 2013, says since 1993, the region has made only modest advances in rule of law and the quality of bureaucracies. Corruption ratings in East Asia which declined sharply during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998 have yet to fully recover, and a World Governance Index study in 2011 found that Asia ranked below Latin America in all areas including control of corruption, government effectiveness, political stability, regulatory quality, and rule of law.

 

People typically judge governance standards by their experiences with public services, and in Asia services lag those in advanced economies, in both quantity and quality. Large infrastructure gaps also plague the region with over 75% of the populations of Myanmar, Afghanistan and Cambodia still lacking electricity. Corruption, too, remains a threat, with a survey in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) showing that 40% of respondents found corruption to be the main cause of poor public services. On a subregional basis, Central Asia is weak on all governance indicators while East Asia shows strong government effectiveness, regulatory quality and rule of law, but lags in controlling corruption. Southeast Asia also struggles with controlling corruption and giving a voice to all its citizens. Political stability and regulatory quality are the key issues in South Asia. Tackling the current shortcomings requires a multi-pronged approach, including directly involving communities in delivering services to give them a greater say in how and where funds are used. Devolving power and funding to local authorities is also crucial, with Bangladesh and the PRC using increased tax and spending autonomy to boost social infrastructure and poverty programs. Broader use of modern information technology is also essential to empower citizens, drive improvements in service quality, increase transparency, and reduce opportunities for corruption.

 

Since individual countries are at different stages of development, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to governance improvements, the report says. However as a general rule of thumb, low-income countries should look to improve government effectiveness, the quality of regulations and rule of law, and to scale up corruption controls to support growth. Middle-income countries, meanwhile, need to respond to the aspirations of increasingly affluent citizens who want to have a greater say in the development process. Inflows of cheap foreign capital into Asia may have allowed some countries to put governance reforms on the back burner, but recent financial market volatility and a pullback in economic activity have added fresh urgency to long-term structural action which can ensure development gains are not lost, and future growth benefits all.

From http://www.adb.org/ 10/02/2013

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CHINA: Premier Li Vows to Deepen Reform

 

China remains committed to deepening reforms in the pursuit of long-term and sustainable economic growth despite the difficulties and challenges ahead, Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday."China is at a crucial stage of economic restructuring and upgrading, and faces many difficulties and challenges," he said.But "we will overcome those difficulties and challenges to deepen reform across the board for long-term, sustainable and sound economic growth and social progress".Li's remarks came at a reception in Beijing to mark the 64th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China and a day after the formal opening of Shanghai free trade zone, which has been hailed as potentially the boldest reform move in decades.Amid intensified global economic downturn, China's economy slowed down in some quarters before stabilizing over the past few months.

 

"The Chinese economy, while maintaining overall stability, has shown good momentum for further growth," Li said. "We have the confidence, conditions and ability to meet the main targets projected for our economic and social development this year."The government has set a growth target of 7.5 percent for 2013. And since early this year, it has stepped up efforts to prevent a sharp economic slowdown by rolling out a series of reforms."We have taken the transformation of government functions as an area where a breakthrough can be made in deepening reform," Li said. "We have redoubled our efforts to introduce reform measures in fiscal, taxation, banking, investment and financial areas in a timely and orderly manner."The government has also expedited the pace of investment in railways and public housing construction, and introduced measures to help small companies. Recent data show some of the efforts are yielding results.

 

China's factory output in August hit a 17-month high with retail sales growing at the fastest pace this year. Profits earned by industrial companies in August were up 24.2 percent year-on-year, more than double the rate in July, according to government data.Looking ahead, Li emphasized that "development is our top priority" and China "will accelerate the shift in (the economic) growth model, intensify economic restructuring and make vigorous efforts to boost domestic demand".The government pledges to transform its economic development model during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) period, making the national economy more dependent on domestic consumption as global demand for Chinese exports and manufacturing decreases because of the still floundering global economy.

 

Li said the government will accord priority to creation of jobs. "The ultimate purpose of development is to improve the well-being of the people," he said."We will always make employment the top priority, step up our efforts to develop social undertakings, such as education, medical care, public health and cultural projects, meet people's basic needs, strengthen weak links in the social safety net and ensure that all the people, even the poorest, have something to fall back on," he said."We will build a clean and law-based government, promote equity in education, employment and business startups."

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/01/2013

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Chinese Government Website Opens Microblog, Wechat Accounts

 

The official website of Chinese government, www.gov.cn, opened accounts on two leading microblog websites and a Wechat account on Friday.The website, run by the General Office of the State Council, or China's cabinet, will publish important government information through these three online platforms, said the website.The two microblog accounts are at at xinhuanet.com and qq.com.Wechat is a hugely popular Chinese messaging app with over 400 million users.The website, in operation since January 2006, publishes information about activities of senior officials of the State Council, import cabinet meetings as well as policies and regulations.The move followed a Wechat account opened last month by the Gazette Office of the State Council. The Gazette account publicizes administrative laws and orders of the State Council, personnel appointments and removals, and important government rules and documents.These attempts are a display of the central government's willingness to approach the public and improve transparency in the age of Internet.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/11/2013

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China's Xi Stresses Conflict Resolution Through Rule of Law

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged officials to resolve conflicts related to the immediate rights and interests of the people in accordance with the rule of law, according to an official release on Friday.Xi made the remarks when commenting on the "Fengqiao experience," a social management practice first advocated by late Chinese leader Mao Zedong in 1963 at a time when class struggles, such as struggles against landowners or anti-revolutionists, were still occurring.Fengqiao township of Zhuji City in eastern Zhejiang Province is credited with developing the practice, which required people to resolve social conflicts among themselves, rather than handing disputes over to higher-level authorities.In 1963, Mao Zedong called on local governments to learn from the "Fengqiao experience" after he learned about the township's practice.Xi said the "Fengqiao experience" has evolved over the past five decades to become a model practice for the country's judicial and law enforcement authorities today.He called on Communist Party committees and governments at all levels to promote the "Fengqiao experience," adhere to sound work styles, and keep innovating methods for dealing with the masses.A symposium commemorating the 50th anniversary of Mao Zedong's call to learn from the "Fengqiao experience" was held on Friday in Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/12/2013

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Gov't Function Reform China's Top Priority

 

As bizarre as it is painfully realistic, a kindergarten in Lishui in east China's Zhejiang Province was built in one year but took two more years to go through all the administrative procedures and obtain 133 approval stamps.Local officials have admitted that some of the stamps were irrelevant and unnecessary after media exposure of the story last week that churned up plenty of public discontent.What started out as idle chatter has been upgraded to a stronger yearning for speeding up transformation of government functions.Transformation of administrative roles, is an old chestnut, but remains a huge challenge today, and it has become the mantra of Chinese leaders.To fundamentally change government functions is a mission that the Chinese government must accomplish to improve administrative efficiency, inject vitality to the economy, and further China's progress in a new era.

 

A recent event might signal concrete efforts toward that goal.The Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ) is an experiment in high level reform. High on the FTZ agenda is changing government function.At home, experts' analyses of the Shanghai FTZ are pointing to the government's determination to pursue a model for efficient administration, supervision and law enforcement, as well as a fair and transparent market, which are evidenced by a number of trials being rolled out at the zone.Wang Xiaoguang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the emphasis on transforming government signified that there remains much room for reform.During the past 30-odd years of reform and opening-up, the country has grown from the world' s 10th biggest economy in 1978 to the present position of second biggest. Despite this achievement, problems remain, with administrative monopoly being one of them, said Wang.Private enterprises still encounter market access barriers and unfair treatment due to monopolies of state-owned companies.

 

The excessive administrative authority has impedes market activity, Wang said.Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said last month at an economic forum that the key to economic reform is to balance government, market and society, and let the market carry out its role to induce more vitality.Wang believes it is critical that reform creates a fair market and improves public administrative efficiency."Our government should act more like a night watchman, and reduce intervention in the micro-economy," he said.Analysts said the "negative list" approach being tried in the FTZ is just such an attempt to slash administrative power. This approach allows more freedom for foreign investors setting up business as they will operate according to a clear-cut "not-to-do list" instead of a vague "to-do list".

 

In recent years, China's central government has been stressing government's function change and relegating authoritative power. The State Council, the Cabinet, has this year scrapped or relegated more than 200 approval rights.A report by the Research Office of the State Council said such efforts are driving the government toward transparency, more limited powers and to becoming more service-oriented.However, despite the central government mandate for change, formalism and bureaucracy remain as some local governments are reluctant to rein in their powers, as shown by the kindergarten case of inefficiency due to administrative interference.Wang Xiaoguang said that a vast network of groups with vested interests was created along with China's administrative system. Against this backdrop, further reform will encounter opposition. "The biggest resistance comes from within the government itself", Wang said.However, analysts claim that limiting the government power does not mean the government can rest easy because a market that lacks supervision and regulation leads to problems of its own.

 

The downfall of several senior officials including former railways minister Liu Zhijun, who received a suspended death sentence for taking bribes and abuse of power in early July, show that excessive administrative authority leads to corruption.According to the premier, the government will continue to crack down on infringement of intellectual property rights and fraud.While relegating administrative approval rights, the government is responsible the rule of law under which law-breakers are punished and pay for their wrong-doings, Wang said.An important meeting of the Communist Party of China in November will be a springboard for major national reforms, with governmental function expected to be one of the main targets.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/12/2013

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China to Recruit 19,000 National-level Civil Servants

 

China's national-level government agencies, their affiliated public institutions and local branches will recruit over 19,000 civil servants in 2014, with a slight decrease from 2013.The 2014 public service exam for national-level governments will open to applications on Wednesday, the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security announced on Monday. In 2013's exam, 20,839 positions were open to application. According to authorities, the 2014 public service selection will continue favoring candidates who have worked in grassroots communities. Most positions in government agencies above provincial level will require two years of grassroots working experience. About 10 percent of all vacancies will be set aside for college graduates-turned-village-heads. Chinese college students are encouraged to work as village officials after graduation.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/14/2013

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Discipline Agency Vows Swift Handling of Holiday Tip-Offs

 

The top discipline agency of the Communist Party of China (CPC) said on Friday that it has received 917 tips-offs about official decadence during the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day Holiday.In a statement on its website, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) vowed swift handling of the tip-offs, 801 of which were submitted online and 116 via mail, and said that violators would be "severely" punished.The suspected violations included use of public funds for gift-giving, dining and travel unrelated to official duties, expensive recreational activities, violations of official car use and handing out unnecessary bonuses, the statement said.Celebratory gifts and feasts have been customary during the Mid-Autumn Festival, a traditional mooncake-eating holiday that fell on Sept. 19 this year, and the seven-day National Day Holiday in early October.The statement came after an eight-point rule was introduced at a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee at the end of last year with the aim of fighting bureaucracy and formalism and rejecting extravagance among Party members.Figures from the CCDI show that a total of 13,999 officials have been dealt with as of the end of August for style violations, 2,814 of whom have received punishment of various degrees.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/18/2013

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CPC Official Urges Greater Role for Labor Unions

 

A senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has called on the country's labor unions to play a greater role in safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of the working class.Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks in a congratulatory speech delivered at the opening session of the 16th national congress of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU).Liu urged labor unions to "take a clear-cut stance and gain the initiative" to safeguard workers' rights of employment, insurance, health and vacation, as well as to guarantee their rights to know, participate, express and supervise.Members of labor unions were asked to implement the "mass line", a one-year campaign launched in June by the CPC to boost ties between Party officials and the people, while cleaning up four undesirable work styles -- formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance.

 

During his speech, Liu praised the role of the working class in modernization, adding the structure of China's growing number of working class has been optimized and their quality enhanced.The working class is the leading class in China and the CPC Constitution stipulates that CPC members are the vanguard of the Chinese working class, people and nation.Liu called on the working class to contribute to the realization of Chinese dream -- a concept introduced by President Xi Jinping, widely understood to represent the renewal of China -- stick to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and push forward reform.Founded on May 1, 1925, the ACFTU is China's only umbrella union and has 31 provincial trade union federations, 10 national industrial unions and more than 1.3 million grassroots trade union organizations affiliated to it.The ACFTU is now the world's largest labor union with 280 million members, 109 million of whom are migrant workers from rural areas seeking jobs in cities.

 

Like Western labor unions, the ACFTU's role includes coordinating labor relations and seeking better working conditions for its members.Led by the CPC, the ACFTU also serves as a "bridge" between the CPC and the masses and assists the government in ensuring the continuing operation of the labor market.However, its function now faces challenges posed by a new generation of Chinese workers who are more educated and increasingly aware of their rights.Over the past few years, strikes have broke out in both joint ventures and local enterprises. Workers demand better pay and working conditions and are more determined in protecting their interests.In his speech, Liu called on the working class to safeguard social stability and unity, maximize positive elements, dissolve negative elements and form a positive momentum of union and hard work."The working class should become the role model of unity and progress, and vigorously promote the glorious tradition of unity, cooperation, mutual assistance and friendship, and strengthen unity with other working people and all strata of society," he said.

 

Friday's session was also attended by CPC and state leaders including Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli.In a work report, ACFTU chairman Li Jianguo said in the next five years trade unions at all levels would strive to contribute to deepening reforms and completing the construction of a moderately prosperous society.Li, also a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, called for efforts by trade unions to promote scientific development and transformation of the economic development pattern.He also urged protecting employees' interests, promoting harmonious employment relations and building the unions to be a reliable "home for employees."The congress is held every five years. The previous session was convened in Beijing in September 2008.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/19/2013

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Li Urges Greater Govt Effort to Advance Reforms

 

Country ready to sacrifice growth in short term to adjust blueprint: expertThe government will make greater efforts to advance reforms, which will play a key role in consolidating the recent upward trend in the Chinese economy, Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday."We should be aware that the foundation of the current economic recovery is not yet solid. ... There are still many risks and challenges," said the premier, who was presiding over an executive meeting of the State Council, China's Cabinet.Li made the remarks as data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed the world's second-largest economy was expanding at 7.8 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, accelerating from the second quarter's 7.5 percent.NBS spokesman Sheng Laiyun summed up the economic situation as "stable with major indicators staying within the rational range" and predicted the trend will continue in the following period.

 

"We have the full conditions and capability to realize the annual growth target (7.5 percent), but we should also make more efforts to continue with current reforms," Li said.China has been following an overall stable monetary and fiscal policy so far this year, even in the face of a complex global climate and downward pressure on the economy. Instead, the government has been promoting reforms such as measures to streamline administrative procedures, facilitate investment and trade, and market-led interest rate reform.Li urged the relevant departments and regions to make sure such reforms are fulfilled so as to build a solid foundation for future development.Wang Tao, chief China economist at UBS AG, expected that comprehensive reforms would be mapped out during the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee, which is due in November.

 

She said the reforms would include opening the service sector more to private and foreign investors, expanding the coverage of the pension fund and medical insurance, and breakthrough reforms in the financial sector and hukou (the household registration system), which will give the economy a boost in the near term."The latest economic data allows the government to maintain its current macroeconomic policies and pay more attention to forthcoming reforms," Wang said, adding that the government will be tolerant on credit growth and may not issue new regulations on the property market.In the meantime, Wang also warned that higher leverage in the financial sector and the impulsiveness of local governments on urbanization will add risk to the economy."In the short and medium term, China will be ready to sacrifice some economic growth for reforms and economic structural transformation," Liu Yuanchun, assistant dean at the Renmin University of China School of Economics, was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/21/2013

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China Stresses Auditors' Role in Guarding Fiscal Stability

 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Tuesday auditors can play an important role in safeguarding fiscal stability and combating corruption.Auditors must properly supervise the financial department, find potential risks and ensure the sustainability of fiscal fund, Li said at the 21st Congress of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions(INCOSAI), which opened in Beijing Tuesday.In his keynote speech, Li urged auditors to mercilessly expose corruption and protect public funds.The Chinese Premier also called for international cooperation between auditors in perfecting the global financial regulation rules and safeguarding the stability of world economy.To the nearly 700 delegates from some 160 countries, Li said the world economy was picking up slowly but deep-rooted defects remain, leaving many uncertain and instable factors.Li briefed them on China's economy, saying the government had taken measures to advance reforms and restructure the economy to allow the market playing a bigger role in generating growth."Those measures have delivered evident effects," Li said, saying economy had improved and market expectations were stable and optimistic."We are capable of reaching the major targets of economic and social development this year and accomplishing fiscal stability and sustainability," he said.With Auditor General of the National Audit Office (NAO) of China to serve as head of INTOSAI, Li said the Chinese government will, as always, support the work of the INTOSAI.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/22/2013

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JAPAN: Civil Service Reform in Limbo

 

The government and ruling parties are facing difficulties reconciling opinions over bills to reform personnel affairs systems of national government employees. The bills are promoted by Tomomi Inada, minister in charge of the national public servant employment reform. Opposing and cautious views toward the bills, which include the creation of new posts of minister advisers and the establishment of a new Cabinet bureau for personnel affairs, have persisted, and differences between the opponents and Inada have yet to be bridged. The advisers, which are to be appointed by the Cabinet, will have the same status as parliamentary secretaries in each ministry, and will help reinforce leadership of politicians. Diet members and representatives of the private sector, including former bureaucrats, will be eligible to hold the posts. The Cabinet bureau for personnel affairs will be headed by a deputy chief cabinet secretary, which will allow the Prime Minister’s Office to effectively control the appointments of about 600 posts of department chiefs and councilors in ministries and other key government entities.

 

At a general meeting Thursday of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Administrative Reform Promotion Headquarters, Inada sought support for the government’s draft of the bills. However, many lawmakers voiced opposition, with one saying, “Does the Prime Minister’s Office know all 600 people?” and another, “It’s impossible to make fair personnel decisions.” Inada countered, saying, “I believe the bills are 100 percent [perfect],” but the debates ended with little progress being made. One of the reforms is to transfer the National Personnel Authority’s power to decide on the number of bureaucrats for each salary bracket to the new Cabinet bureau. Inada has clashed strongly with the National Personnel Authority over this move. It is widely believed that giving the Cabinet Secretariat, the employer of national public servants, the authority to decide the quotas, which are major factors that determine the working conditions of bureaucrats, would undermine the role of the National Personnel Authority. This is because one of the NPA’s roles is to protect national public servants’ basic worker rights, which are limited.

 

Given the situation, ruling party members made the resolution of the confrontation between the NPA and Inada a condition for approval of the bills. “We can’t discuss the bills before coordination inside the government has been realized,” a senior LDP member said. While Inada is enthusiastic about the new adviser posts, a Cabinet member voiced caution, saying, “No more posts are needed for politicians in ministries and other government offices.” During an extraordinary Diet session to be convened on Oct. 15, many other key bills will be discussed, including one to strengthen industrial competitiveness for revitalizing the economy, and one to create a Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council, which will serve to coordinate diplomatic and security policies. Aides of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also voiced alarm about the uncertainty of the civil service reform bills, with one saying, “If things go unchanged, the creation of the Cabinet bureau for personnel affairs will not be realized in next spring as planned.”

From http://the-japan-news.com 10/06/2013

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LDP Likely to Loosen Reins on Civil Servants

 

The Liberal Democratic Party will likely permit public servants to express their opinions about amendment of the Constitution before a national referendum is conducted on a proposed revision of the supreme law, party sources said. The LDP policy would also allow civil servants to urge other people to vote for or against amendment of the nation’s top law prior to such a referendum. The National Referendum Law stipulates that any citizen aged 18 or older is eligible to vote in a plebiscite on constitutional amendment. However, the ruling party’s tentative decision will not entail measures to lower the minimum voting age and the legally decreed adult age, both of which stand at 20 today. This means no change will be made in the age of eligibility to vote in elections or the legally defined adult age, according to the sources. One pending issue is whether a national referendum on constitutional amendment could be preceded by a plebiscite aimed at hearing the opinions of the public regarding important matters presumably subject to such a revision. The LDP will continue to study the pros and cons of conducting such a preliminary vote, the sources said.

 

Senior members of the LDP’s Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision of the Constitution are expected to start full-fledged coordination of views with an eye to proposing a review of amendments to the referendum law and submitting a bill together with New Komeito to an extraordinary Diet session to be convened Oct. 15. Government employees are not allowed to call for votes or engage in other electoral activities in national or local elections in in order to maintain their political neutrality. The LDP is believed to have judged government employees should be allowed a certain measure of electoral freedom because a national referendum on constitutional amendment is important from the viewpoint of the exercise of popular sovereignty. Because some members of the party do not think schoolteachers should be allowed to call for constitutional amendment or promote their opposition to the amendment at the workplace, the party is set to discuss exceptional cases.

 

Reviewing restrictions on government employees’ political activities is one of three issues that were found necessary to be discussed further in the supplement to the referendum law when the law was enacted in May 2007. The other two are the review of lowering the minimum voting age for elections or the age of adulthood and the introduction of preliminary referendums. The LDP, Komeito and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) agreed to keep the minimum voting age for a national referendum at 18 for the time being and continue studying the idea of preliminary national referendums. Komeito is expected to agree with the LDP on the matter of allowing government employees to express their opinions.

From http://the-japan-news.com 10/08/2013

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SOUTH KOREA: Gov't Seeks to Enhance Transparency in Generating Statistics - Minister

 

The government will push to enhance transparency and independence in the process of generating and utilizing statistics by preventing inappropriate outside influences, the country's top economic policymaker said Tuesday. "There has been criticism that independence was compromised in the process of announcing some statistical findings," Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok told a national statistics committee meeting held in Seoul.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/ 10/08/2013

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MONGOLIA: Self-Service Machines to Improve State Services

 

The New Government for Changes has placed self-service State Services machine in 17 locations around Ulaanbaatar. Prior to the availability of the self-service machines, citizens paid 5,000 MNT for civil inquiries. The new machines charge only 500 MNT to 1,000 MNT for all state service references. Below is a short interview with R.Otgontulga, an information technology expert working with the Prime Minister. -How many state services can the machine provide citizens? What’s the average number of users per day? -Currently, 10 different state services are available from the machine. Each day 600 to 700 citizens use the machines. Most of them are requesting official residence statements and passport references. -The General Authority for State registration charged 5,000 MNT for these references, but now citizens only have to pay 1,000 MNT to receive them from the machine. Is there an exact estimation of how much money citizens are saving thanks to the machines? -Yes we studied the savings. It’s been a few months since we started using the self-service machines. The money saved by citizens is over 600 million MNT according to one method of calculating the benefits of the machines. -Can you give us details about the 10 available state services? -Citizens can take references on birth registration, passports, residency statements, and official marital statements. Also, taxation status reference, newspaper subscriptions, payment for electricity fees, submitting complaints and petitions are also available. -Are any new services planned to be provided through the machine? -Yes. Before, citizens had to visit many places to receive the abovementioned services. But the machines are saving both money and time for citizens. Payment services for internet access fees and real estate references will be added to the machine’s services. -Will you make more machines available? -After monitoring the perks of the machine, we have decided to place 230 machines in locations nationwide.

From http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn 10/23/2013

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CAMBODIA: Newly-Formed Gov't "Legitimate"

 

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday defended that his newly-formed government was " legitimate" since the nation's King Norodom Sihamoni had given endorsement. "This government is a legitimate government, which was born from the election and was endorsed by the king," the premier said during first cabinet meeting. He said the opening session of parliament was convened by the king, not by the United Nations Secretary General or any diplomats or presidents of other countries. "The king has signed to recognize the new government already," he said. "It is no need for the U.N. Secretary General or signatory countries in the Paris Accord to give their endorsement. " The premier's remarks came after the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) announced on Wednesday that it did not recognize the Prime Minister Hun Sen-led government, which was formed on Tuesday.

 

"Our stance is that we do not recognize the government that was formed earlier this week, it was a violation of the constitution and against the principle of multi-party liberal democracy," CNRP' s President Sam Rainsy said in a press briefing at the party's headquarters. "We cannot cooperate in any image with this government." He warned to call a nationwide general strike for factory workers, civil servants and shopkeepers if the ruling party does not agree to an independent poll probe committee into alleged electoral fraud. Sam Rainsy also called on the international community to condemn the newly-formed government and urged big foreign investors to ignore the country. The parliament, formed by the ruling party's 68 lawmakers, on Tuesday voted for the formation of a new government under the leadership of Hun Sen even though the opposition's 55 legislators boycotted the session since it refused to accept the results of the July 28 election. Hun Sen said Tuesday the new parliament and government were formed in accordance with the constitution despite a boycott of the opposition. He said, under the constitution, a new government was formed by a 50 percent plus one majority, or 63 lawmakers, in the parliament. Hun Sen, 61, who has been in power for 28 years, was sworn in for another five-year term on Tuesday.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 09/25/2013

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MALAYSIA: PM Keeps Leadership Lineup in Party Elections

 

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak received a boost for his leadership after his current leadership lineup has been retained in the party elections of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO). According to voting results announced early Sunday, the three incumbents -- Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Rural and Regional Development Minister Shafie Apdal and Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein -- retained their posts as vice presidents, the most senior position put up for contest in the party elections on Saturday. Meanwhile, several current cabinet ministers are leading in the race of the 25-member Supreme Council, the top policy-maker of Malaysia's ruling party. The polling results mean most UMNO members chose to keep the current party leadership unchanged, as Najib has retained his party presidency unopposed earlier together with his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin.

 

Najib has refrained from spelling out his favors in the vice president election. But the overwhelming support for the three incumbents in the central Pahang state and the southern Johor state, headed by Najib and Muhyiddin respectively, shed some light on the preferences of UMNO's top leaders. Mukhriz Mahathir, son of Malaysia's former and longest serving Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, fell just short to unseat the incumbent Hishammuddin, who is also a son of a former prime minister and a cousin of Najib. Some analysts said Mukhriz's defeat suggests the waning influence by Mahathir, who remains outspoken after he stepped down in 2003. Oh Ei Sun, former political secretary to Najib, said the Prime Miniter's clout was strengthened by the party election outcome and he is now in a stronger hand to push through his reforms for the country.  "The most important thing is that now hopefully the whole Malaysia can finally focus on tackling the economic challenges which are looming, instead of dwelling on incessant political bickering prior to UMNO elections," Oh said. Najib is expected to announce the 2014 budget later this month, as he is facing the daunting challenge to curb the fiscal deficit and mounting national debt.

 

Since assuming office in 2009, Najib has embarked on a reform agenda by abolishing several harsh laws as well as slowly withdrawal of policies that favor the country's ethnic Malay majority, who make up of the major supporting base of UMNO. He also extended the voters base of the internal party election from some 2,000 central delegates to more than 140,000 party members. However, his UMNO-led ruling coalition retained power with a reduced majority in the May general election after largely rejected by the economically-superior ethnic Chinese and urban voters, putting Najib under increased pressure from the party conservatives. Last month, the prime minister announced new initiatives to boost the privileges for the ethnic Malays, and his government pushed through a bill that brings back detention without trial to tackle worsening crimes. Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Najib vowed to continue the transformation programs. Oh said that Najib is likely to roll back political and human rights reforms. "On the economic front, you will continue to see one measure after another be introduced over time," he said.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/20/2013

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THAILAND: Engaging Citizens to Smoke Out Corruption

 

Citizens of Thailand can now actively take part in the country’s fight against corruption through an anti-corruption website launched by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) last week. The OAG Anti-Corruption portal aims to raise public awareness of corruption in Thailand and engage the citizens’ participation in acting against corruption. On the website, citizens can post about bribery and other cases of corruption that they encounter, including details such as the amount of bribe paid. It enables the OAG officials to respond quickly and bring the offenders to justice. The portal also provides statistics on corruption cases reported in every province of Thailand, including the number of complaints made and number of suspicious acts reported so far. Inspired by an Indian non-profit initiative, I Paid A Bribe, the website has had almost 17,000 visits in its first week. It has also been approved for accessibility by Thai Web Accessibility. The Thai Government urges those who witness any suspicious activities to send in their complaints to the OAG through oaganticorruption.com.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/25/2013

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Freeze on Civil Servants Awaits Govt Approval

 

The hiring or replacement of civil servants will only be permitted in cases of "unavoidable necessity", according to recommendations being submitted to the Cabinet next Tuesday by the Office of the Civil Service Commission for initial approval.The recommendations, which are part of the current bureaucratic reform process, and would come into effect between 2014 to 2018, also state that all civil servants would need to undergo training to meet the minimum requirements of the Asean Economic Community (AEC), commencing in 2015. The positions to be affected by the recommendations include all types of government personnel - including contract workers - receiving remuneration that relies on annual government budgets. However, members of the Armed Forces would not be affected, say the recommendations - made by the commission's State Resources and Policy Specification Committee (SRPSC). In cases of retirement, only important vacancies would be filled. However, replacements would not be automatically made on a position-by-position basis. Further criteria on new hiring and replacements would be subject to future SRPSC amendments, the document said. Training for all active government workers is also recommended under a "Develop Workforce Strategic Readiness" master plan to accommodate the AEC. Eighty per cent of the workers are also expected to create "Career Planning and Succession Planning" for themselves and their agencies, respectively.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 10/12/2013

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BANGLADESH: Cabinet Satisfied with Its Performance

 

The Cabinet on Monday expressed satisfaction over its performance especially over the high implementation rate of its decisions during the last four years and nine months of the present government. The satisfaction was voiced during the regular weekly meeting of the cabinet held at Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Briefing newsmen after the meeting, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said that Sheikh Hasina thanked all concerned including the government officials for their sincere efforts in implementing 92.86 percent of the cabinet decisions. He said that during its 4 years and nine months from 06 January 2009 to 30 September 2013, the present government held 219 cabinet meetings against 199 meetings of the previous BNP Jamaat government during a similar period from 10 October 2001 to 03 July 2006. The Cabinet Secretary informed that the present government took 1442 decisions against 707 of the previous government, approved 43 policy and strategy, signed 114 agreements and MoUs and enacted 240 laws in Parliament against 23 policy and strategy, 62 MoUs and 160 laws of the previous government.

 

The cabinet also endorsed the draft of the National Occupational Health and Safety Policy 2013 to ensure safe working conditions for the workers. Labour and Employment Ministry placed the draft policy after holding detailed discussions with all stakeholders including owners, workers, ILO, WHO, BILS and experts to ensure health and safety at work places. The cabinet approved the draft of the Election Commission Secretariat (Amendment) Bill, 2013 to incorporate the practicing rules and regulations for the recruitment, transfer and promotion of its officers and employees in the law. It also approved in principle the drafts of the Civil Aviation Authority Bill, 2013 and the Bangladesh High-Tech Park (Amendment) Bill 2013. Besides, the cabinet approved the ratification proposal of placing of Instrument Acceptance for necessary amendment of the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol. It also approved the proposal of retrospective endorsement and ratification of the agreement signed between Bangladesh and Belarus to avoid double taxation and to prevent revenue evasion. A report on Bangladesh’s achievement of CIRDAP Medal in recognition of country’s contribution to poverty alleviation and rural development was placed before the cabinet. Cabinet members, Advisers to the Prime Minister and State Ministers concerned attended the meeting while concerned secretaries were present.

From http://unbconnect.com 10/21/2013

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INDIA: Government to Launch m-Governance System

 

Government of India is planning to take the e-Governance programme a step forward by launching a village level mobile governance system for speedy delivery of services to the rural people. The National Informatics Centre (NIC) will launch mobile governance (m-Governance) in the State very soon. This was informed by acting Director General of NIC, CSR Prabhu to Chief Secretary JK Mohapatra. Meanwhile, the Department of Electronics and the Information Technology in the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has prepared a framework for m-Governance to ensure inclusive delivery of public services in a time-bound manner. Websites of all Government departments and agencies will be made mobile compliant, using the ‘one web’ approach. Open standards will be adopted for mobile applications for ensuring the inter-operability of applications across various operating systems and devices as per the Government policy on open standards for e-Governance, official sources said. Uniform or single pre-designated numbers (long and short codes) will be used for mobile-based services to ensure convenience. Government departments and agencies are required to develop and deploy mobile applications for providing their public services through mobile devices to the extent feasible on the mobile platform, the sources said. Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department has already started monitoring paddy procurement, rice transfer and delivery thorough m-Governance.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 10/09/2013

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MALDIVES: Committee to Summon Supreme Court Judges

 

A committee member told Haveeru that the judges are being summoned for a academic study. The purpose of the study is to find out the opinion and expertise of the highest court’s judges over the legal issues that may arise if a new president is not elected by the constitutional deadline of November 11. A date for the sit-down which is set to be held behind closed doors has not yet been announced. Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) holds majority in the committee.

From http://www.haveeru.com.mv 10/23/2013

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Parliament Passes to Hand Power to Speaker, If No Pres by Nov 11

 

The motion proposed by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) was passed with 39 votes out of 40 MPs who took part in the vote. Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Jumhoory Party (JP) and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) had boycotted the vote. MDP had proposed to hold an elections within 21 days if a new president is not elected before the deadline. According to the bill, under such a circumstance, the powers of the president and the vice president will be transferred to the parliament Speaker. If the speaker is unable to assume the responsibility, presidential powers will be transferred to the deputy speaker. The bill also sates if the deputy speaker is unable, the responsibility will be given to a lawmaker appointed through a resolution passed by the parliament. The parliament sitting on Sunday was held over the letter sent by outgoing president Mohamed Waheed Hassan to the Speaker seeking a solution to any legal issues that will arise if a new president is not elected by the constitutional deadline of November 11.

From http://www.haveeru.com.mv 10/27/2013

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NEPAL: Political Parties Intensifies Door-to-door Campaign in Sunsari

 

Political parties have stepped up their door-to-door campaign along with corner meets in Sunsari villages immediately after Dashain celebrations. Candidates and cadres of various parties are reaching doorsteps of voters asking support to make their party winner in the November 19 Constituent Assembly (CA) election. Sunsari district has witnessed an increasing fever of election with the candidates and leaders of all big and small parties getting into poll campaign. The Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal (RPP-N) has initiated its door-to-door visit programme in constituency No 2 of Sunsari district. The party has geared up its campaign after moving around Itahari Bazaar with cultural bands and processions. 'Declaring Nepal a Hindu State' has been set as a key election agenda of the RPP-N. Likewise, Nepali Congress is also busy motivating voters to make the party victorious in the CA election for the betterment of the country. Organizing corner meets in different places, the NC has asked the voters to cast a ballot for the party to deliver a new constitution thereby taking the country to the path of prosperity. NC's candidate from constituency no. 6, Ram Bahadur Basnet, presented his claim among the voters that the NC could only work for the prosperity of the country. The poll environment is heated up in Sunsari as other parties including CPN-UML, UCPN (Maoist), Madhes-based parties and Federal Socialist Party coming into the fray of election.

From http://www.nepalnews.com 10/21/2013

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PAKISTAN: Sindh Govt to Appoint 200 Law Graduates in Police Dept

 

KARACHI: Sindh Government has decided to appoint 200 law graduates in police department for strengthening the investigation of criminal cases. This was stated by Provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon while briefing the media about the decisions taken in the law and order meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah here on Monday. The meeting was held to discuss the matter related to law and order and performance of targeted operation being carried out in the metropolis. He said that the recruitment of law graduates in police investigation will help in preparing sound cases for trial in the courts of law. The Minister said that implementation on Code of Conduct, prepared for collection of hides/ skins on Eid-ul- Azha would be ensured and strict action will be taken on its violation. He informed that the meeting expressed satisfaction over the outcomes of targeted operation being carried out against criminals in Karachi. Sharjeel Memon informed that the meeting expressed satisfaction over the outcomes of the targeted operation. To a question about the duration of the operation, he said that it could be long term and will continue till elimination of each and every criminal from the city. He hoped that environment of fear will be ended soon as a result of targeted actions of Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) against criminal elements.

From http://www.brecorder.com 10/15/2013

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AZERBAIJAN: Post-Election Report and What Comes Next

 

[Joshua Tucker: Continuing our series of Election Reports, the following is a post-election report on last week's Azerbaijani elections from Farid Guliyev, a Ph.D candidate in Political Science at Jacobs University Bremen and the list editor of the Azerbaijani Studies group, and Katy E. Pearce, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington.  Guliyev and Pearce's pre-election reports can be found here and here; a response to those reports from Mammad Talibov, counselor at the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Washington, is available here.]

 

The results

Azerbaijan held its presidential election on Oct. 9. As predicted by most experts and country observers (here and here), the incumbent president Ilham Aliyev has been reelected for a third five-year term. According to official results, Aliyev received 84.55 percent of the votes (4 percent less than in 2008, but 8 percent more than in 2003). The united opposition candidate Jamil Hasanli received the second most votes, with 5.53 percent. Interestingly, five of the other candidates received fewer votes than the minimum number of signatures required for candidate registration. Hasanli refused to accept the election results and the legitimacy of the vote. The official turnout was 72.31 percent (which is very close to the 2008 figure – 75.6 percent).  The Oct. 9 election, according to the OSCE observer mission, “was undermined by limitations on the freedoms of expression, assembly, and association that did not guarantee a level playing field for candidates” while the vote counting was marred by serious irregularities. The deteriorating quality of elections is a clear pattern. Freedom House’s measures of electoral process show worsening of the electoral institutions and process in Azerbaijan.

 

Elections under authoritarianism

Azerbaijan is an electoral autocracy  the type of regime in which “regular elections are held for national legislatures and chief executives, yet they fail to live up to democratic standards of freedom and fairness.” In electoral authoritarian regimes, elections can play different roles depending on context, the power structure of the existing regime, and timing. As the wave of color revolutions demonstrated, multiparty elections under authoritarianism can sometimes become focal points for real contest, threatening authoritarian stability and promoting democratization. This becomes more likely when at least one of the following conditions exists: first, when prior to the polls, economic crisis or free-market reforms diminish the state’s ability to distribute patronage and weakens the incumbent’s powers to emasculate the opposition. Quite to the contrary in Azerbaijan, the favorable international energy market in the past decade has allowed the regime to reap economic benefits, provide goods and services which have trickled down to the population (per capita income rose from $900 in 2003 to $8,000 this year even though urban-rural inequalities persist — for example, about 30-35 percent of the rural population lived below the poverty line in 2011 — and thus, improved economic conditions have quieted some potential dissent and strengthened the incumbent’s supremacy. The slow pace of economic liberalization, close alliance between political leadership and business people tied to the regime, and the dominant role of state-controlled oil industry in the economy have all hindered the role of private sector in Azerbaijan.

 

Second, elections can threaten regime stability when a looming leadership succession crisis (or a lame duck situation which arises when the incumbent leader has to transfer power to a successor due to illness, death, fallen popularity or final term in office) alters the incentives of the elite to continue to support the president, prompting some former elite members to desert the regime and join a more promising rival elite group or the opposition. President Aliyev took measures in 2009 to avoid the future lame duck situation. Finally, oil wealth gives the leader in power incumbency advantages over the opposition and resources to garner support. Elections in post-communist states with oil are shown to have autocracy-stabilizing effects. Both of these conditions were notably absent on the eve of Azerbaijan’s October elections, and thus, anticipation for an opposition win in the election was rather premature. While in the situations described above, elections can sometimes undermine regime stability, electoral contests held under normal circumstances typically serve to enhance regime resilience by providing a veneer of popular legitimacy and more importantly as informational signaling and elite management tools. According to Gandhi and Przeworski, the reason authoritarian leaders hold elections is “to intimidate any potential opposition.

 

Elections are intended to show that the dictatorship can make the dog perform tricks, that it can intimidate a substantial part of the population, so that any opposition is futile.” Geddes argues that elections are used by dictators to manage intra-regime conflicts, and Lust shows that elections can stabilize a dictator’s grip on power as “a venue to co-opt opposition, to deter defection from the ruling coalition, and efficiently distribute patronage and access to state resources” (also see here). Specifically addressing the informational signaling function, the large margin by which Aliyev won sends a message to both elites and the masses that he is firmly in control. In this sense, elections serve the function of spectacles, to use Birch’s analogy. But elite management is more important for Aliyev, as the biggest threat to his rule comes from coordinated action from within the elite. Aliyev has firmly told the elite that he has “unconditional support of the population,” as one official commented on the president’s reelection. Hastily organized presidential victory celebrations before the official results were announced also illustrate this point. Such impression management seems to be important for perpetuating the idea that the president is popular and that there are no alternatives to Aliyev.

 

Reported manipulations

The question of falsifications and manipulations often arises in post-Soviet elections, and for all of the reasons detailed above, in some of the more authoritarian post-Soviet states, manipulations can ensure a win. There is a great deal of evidence that the use of administrative resources and manipulation (which were carried over from the Soviet past and adapted to post-Soviet country-specific circumstances) did take place in this week’s election in Azerbaijan. Media reports and especially social media reports from observers were readily spread via social networks. Also, the report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights claimed manipulations such as merry-go-round voting and ballot-box stuffing (ballot-box stuffing was reported in 37 polling stations and counting was assessed negatively in 58 percent of the polling stations observed) took place, which is consistent with past elections in Azerbaijan. Of particular interest is that the OSCE monitoring mission issued a critical preliminary report noting the lack of level playing field for all candidates. Moreover, it is alleged that a mobile phone app introduced by the Central Election Commission (CEC) to allow users to follow vote counting on election day “leaked” the final election results a day before the voting started. The local monitoring group echoed these findings. And the U.S. government, UK government, and the European Union all made critical statements about the conduct during the election. (Although notably, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly did not find any manipulations.)

 

Some Azerbaijani pundits suggest that electoral fraud was unprecedentedly high — in the words of one opposition politician: this was “the dirtiest elections in the history of Azerbaijan.” These pundits suggest that because the real turnout was very low (below 40 percent), the CEC had to employ a full range of ballot rigging techniques to get a high enough number of votes (above 80 percent). Additional evidence comes from political scientist Fredrik M Sjoberg, who tweeted his “digit test” analysis which showed irregularities in the officially reported results. Briefly, it demonstrates that a human may have written what they think is a random number of votes, rather than genuinely counting the votes. For example, Candidate X would get a vote count of 123 in one polling station, and 234 in another. Under a clean vote count one would expect that the votes would end in the digit 0 10 percent of the time, the digit 1 10 percent of the time, the digit 2 10 percent of the time, and so on (the blue line in the graph). In this election, note how much more frequently Aliyev’s vote count ended in the digit 0. One could imagine a human writing down a number like 350/400 votes for Aliyev, rather than the random number of votes (like 337) that would happen naturally.

 

What’s new and interesting about this year’s election results?

While it is difficult to determine if there were in fact more manipulations this year compared to previous elections, it is possible that the efforts put forth were to help Aliyev legitimize his controversial third term. From a legal point of view, one lawyer has argued, the removal of the term restrictions could not be done retroactively. Another interesting development this year was the unification of opposition parties into a pre-election coalition that perhaps helped run a relatively more active campaign but did not yield the expected success in terms of more effectively challenging the regime. Apart from the structural conditions of economic crisis/stability and the rentier structure of the Azerbaijani economy (the latter putting the opposition in the disadvantaged position), a number of other factors help explain why the pre-election coalition did not work in Azerbaijan this time: the electoral field is too tightly controlled by the regime with too many obstacles for oppositionists to compete for offices. Another important factor is the weakness of political parties (focused on personalities over party platforms) constituting the coalition and the overall weakness of intermediary institutions such as labor unions, civic associations, local communities.

 

Finally, there is not sufficient use of innovations in forming strategies to confront the regime. This was especially apparent during televised debates in which, for example, participants, including the opposition National Council-nominated candidate Jamil Hasanli, were making some promises hinging on the kind of populism employed by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. In fact, in authoritarian states, some scholars have argued that the opposition can only win elections if they adopt novel and sophisticated electoral strategies to make themselves more effective and popular (Bunce & Wolchik). The role of social media in this election, as we noted in our pre-election reports, was mostly for keeping eyes on the ground and reporting. Opposition-minded Azerbaijani social media was abuzz all day with reports of election violations; photographs of ballots were also popular. At the same time, pro-government social media users also posted ballot and voting photographs and as early reporting as well as exit polls came in, early celebratory activities took place both online and offline. Twitter was a battlefield of hashtag dominance between opposition and pro-government force.

 

Aliyev’s third term — What’s next?

The electoral process is only one possible arena for contesting and advancing democracy, but the opportunity for mounting a serious challenge in this electoral domain depends, as we discussed, on the presence of other conditions. In the specific case of Azerbaijan, the structural economic factors are at present not favorable for elections to have a real pro-democratic effect. But this may be changing. The regime’s strongest vulnerability is poor economic performance, which to a large extent depends on the dynamics of oil production and swings in the international oil prices. The government has shielded itself against  supply shocks by creating an oil fund. However, with declining oil revenue and the poor development of alternative non-oil sectors, Aliyev, if he intends to stay in power, is going to need to make hard choices about what to do next. Diversification will be an imperative for survival, but its actual implementation could be a threat to the regime, as opening up the economy to non-state actors may strengthen the autonomy and power of societal groups that fall outside the scope of the regime’s patronage circles.

 

In conclusion, first, the potential for opposition contest during election cycles depends on the economic situation and the incumbent’s control of state resources and the expectation of a power transfer. While the former is a structural constraint, the latter is possible to act upon by advocating, perhaps more vigorously, the re-introduction of the restrictions on the presidency and the enforcement of other institutional checks. Given the present conditions in Azerbaijan, elections serve the president by helping him look strong and popular, which in turn helps with managing elites. Second, the Azerbaijani opposition suffers from being too personality-driven (although certainly this is common in post-Soviet opposition parties). Moreover, in order to be successful, opposition parties need to be organizationally solid and ideologically appealing. One way to do this could be to build more soft power through educational and social programs. The opposition parties could also benefit from a more sophisticated social media strategy. While some individuals and groups use social media as a space for information dissemination and deliberation, those who are most successful in building support and sometimes acting collectively are not the opposition parties themselves. Rather opposition-minded individuals unaffiliated with parties seem to have had the largest reach and power on social media and the greatest successes with transforming online deliberation into both online and offline action. Because personalized action frames that are individually driven work quite well through social media, connective action can occur. Indeed, one no longer needs a party affiliation to have his or her voice heard in Azerbaijani politics. If the traditional opposition parties are somehow able to leverage the affordances of connective action in combination with the assets of their existing organizational structures, they could possibly reach entirely new constituencies. However, as dissent becomes more creative, including using social media, the law of coercive responsiveness may come into play.

From http://www.washingtonpost.com/ 10/15/2013

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TURKMENISTAN: Electoral Districts Established Due to Parliamentary Elections

 

Regarding the election of deputies of the Turkmen Mejlis (Parliament), which is scheduled for December 15, 2013, a decision was taken on establishment of electoral districts, the resolution of the Central Election Commission of Turkmenistan released on Friday said. In accordance with Article 60 of the Turkmen Constitution for the orderly conduct of the elections in the country 125 electoral districts will be established, including those in Ashgabat city - 15, Akhal province - 15, Balkan province - 10, Dashoguz province - 27, Lebap province- 28, Mary province - 30. It is expected that the start of the campaign for this election will be announced on October 5, 2013, in Turkmenistan. Nomination of candidates for the national parliament will take place from October 16 to November 14. Registration will run from October 26 to November 20.

 

It is expected the elections will be monitored by national observers and invited international experts and witnesses from many foreign countries and major international organisations and in the first instance, the European Union, the CIS and the OSCE. The MPs term of office is five years. The main current staff was elected in December 2008. According to the Turkmen constitution, the parliament passes laws, makes changes and additions to the Constitution of Turkmenistan; examines the state budget approval, addresses questions on holding referendums and announces presidential and parliamentary elections. It also considers issues the appointment and dismissal of the chief of the Supreme Court, attorney general, interior minister and minister of justice and ratifies and terminates international treaties, addresses issues on changes of state borders and the administrative-territorial division of Turkmenistan.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/04/2013

 

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UZBEKISTAN: Boosting E-Government

 

Uzbekistan's Cabinet of Ministers adopted a resolution on the establishment of Center for development of e-government and Center for Information Security under the State Committee for Communication, Informatization and Telecommunication Technologies. Under the resolution, the main objectives and activities of the first center are developing strategy for development of e-government, as well as those based on the analysis of global trends and experience of foreign countries, providing a unified technological approach in the formation of the system. The center will also monitor the evaluation of the status and effectiveness of implementation and development of information and communication technologies within the system and make proposals to improve the regulatory framework for effective implementation of e-government system. The Center for Information Security will also engage in ensuring security of information systems and resources of state agencies, identifying and analyzing threats, as well as developing solutions to improve the security of the e-government system.

From http://www.azernews.az/ 09/27/2013

 

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Government 3.0 the Future of Opening, Sharing, Communication, and Collaboration

 

The opening of the 2nd Global e-Government Forum is right around the corner. Under the guidance of the Ministry of Security and Public Administration, the forum will be grandly held for 2 days on October 22nd and 23rd.  Korea has been chosen as the global best for the past two years by the UN e-Government Assessment, and as the prominent leader in e-Government. The 2nd Global e-Government Forum will be a chance to show Korea’s brand power in the e-Government field and with this the international market advance of domestic IT companies will happen much more easily. The first Global e-Government Forum was successively held last October 18~19 with 64 countries and 1059 participants. The forum achieved the remarkable feat of 350 million dollars in actual exports. The forum was first held to create an opportunity where Korea could share their successful e-Government build-up experience with the ministers, undersecretaries, and policy decision makers of other nations, international organizations, academic circles, industrial circles, and the press. Using this momentum Shim Deok-Seob, Director General e-Government Bureau, has a target of of exports is 400 million dollars. “In the end, if it is not linked to exports, there is no use in coming in as 1st place” he said, stressing the meaning and influence of the e-Government Forum as global marketing chance for increasing exports.  

 

Maximizing synergy by liaised hosting with international symposium ICEGOV  If last year’s first forum stopped with the comprehensive introduction of the situation of e-Government for each country, this year the forum will focus on ‘Government 3.0’ and mainly discuss open-data strategy, personalized services, citizen participation, and cooperation cases etc.  Furthermore the forum is hosted with the international symposium ICEGOV¹, which is supervised by the UN University, maximizing synergy with not only governments and international organizations, but also academic circles.  The High-Level Roundtable, which decorates the grand finale of the forum, will discuss in detail the duties and plans of each country regarding ‘Seoul Communique’ of the first forum, and under the lead of Korea search and share the ways the whole world can realize the core values of Government 3.0 through e-government. Director Shim said that 2 consecutive holdings of the Global e-Government Forum represented Korea’s prominence in e-Government, but if it continues to only be held in Korea, the possibility of developing the forum into an ‘International Event’ may decrease. With that in mind, the coming 3rd forum, it will be held in rotation within the countries hoping for inducement.     e-Government System, Leader of spreading the ‘Administrative Korean Wave’  Exporting e-Government is a very delicate issue because unlike usual products, security, stability, and funding using EDCF must be considered, so it goes beyond just selling a system to a foreign government, and the transaction requires nation to nation exchange, cooperation, and trust.  As to demand for advanced e-Government systems increase in the international society, Korea’s 2 consecutive titles for being the international first place in the e-Government assessment will be a sure check to export increase.  Korea is internationally recognized as a country leading the global e-Government market, and as of August 2013, continued cooperation by signing MOU with 24 countries, created businesses with developing countries by building and operating e-Government cooperation centers and cooperation committees, establishing a master plan for e-Governance, and consulting. 

 

Especially with the sophisticated technology of Korean companies such as Samsung SDS, SK C&C, LG CNS contributed to the export increase of e-Government, and main export products consist of e-procurement, universal pass, patents, integrated computing and information centers, mail distribution, e-tax administration, finance information, disaster management, immigration control, and SOS Public Relief Services.  Not only is the Korean wave blowing in cultural contents such as soap operas, K-POP, and movies but also is stirring a great wind in the administrative field with e-Government.  Director Shim, when undertaking ‘Head of envoy of ICT industry in Central and South America” last August, visited the Dominican Republic, Panama, and Peru along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, and the Public Procurement Service, experienced firsthand the desire to obtain Korea’s e-Government experience, and after the visit of envoy, the Dominican Republic is actively considering Korea’s standard framework as the standard of their own country.  Even this year 169 people form 21 countries visited the Ministry of Security and Public Administration to learn from the e-Government build-up experience, and the number of visiting foreign² public officials to learn more about Korea’s e-Government service is expected to increase. 

 

The spread of this ‘Administrative Korean Wave’ is receiving attention not only because increasing exports of Korea’s e-Government systems but also the advancement of domestic e-Government specialists. Last March Kim Nam-Suk, former undersecretary Ministry of Security and Public Administration, was elected vice chairman of the telecommunication committee in Uzbekistan, and is supporting the development of Uzbekistan’s e-Government. He is known as the first case of ‘Administrative Korean Wave’ where a Korean government official went to work in a foreign government and increased the national status of Korea.  Director Shim also hinted that they will also expand the export base so that not only officials and major companies could advance but also minor companies will have a chance to expand overseas. Open Data, the core to realizing Government 3.0 and Creative Economy. When smartphones became widespread in 2011, director Shim announced the 'Smart e-Government forwarding plan’, and taking the e-government system shifting from PC oriented to mobile oriented for example, emphasized on the fact that Korea’s e-Government system had quickly and flexibly switched with the IT trend.  Since the inauguration of the Park administration, He has been suggesting ‘Government 3.0’ as the new government operation paradigm. The concept fuses individuals and corporate’s ideas and imaginations with science technology and IT leading to new markets and job creation. 

 

Director Shim laid down a blueprint that would effectively realize the core values of ‘Government 3.0’. The plans include: Completely opening public data, switching the government paradigm where anybody can easily use and apply the data; Create a clean government operation through citizen participation during the policy decision process by allowing and expanding online policy participation services; Actively introduce and apply cloud computing and big data technology to share knowledge and information between government bodies and create an environment capable for scientific administration; Connect and integrate e-Government systems to support cooperation between government departments; Upgrade e-Government systems in order to provide personalized services to each individual citizen; Apply cutting edge technologies such as mobile, spatial data, and u-IT to find and provide new intelligent administrative services. Director Shim stressed that Creative Economy could only be realized when the vast 42 thousand public DB which was created and accumulated through the e-Government became open to and be creatively used by the public. He emphasized that in the past the system was made due to government needs, but now the government should strive to be a ‘platform government’ where the government provides the place where the people could play their hearts out on already constructed infrastructure. Director Shim showed his strong aspirations by saying that the ‘open data’ trend is already a big issue in USA, EU, and OECD along with other advanced countries and international organizations, and he and the Ministry of Security and Public Administration will try their best to develop a new e-Government system adjusted to the new ‘Object Communication Era’ IT environment.

From http://www.koreaittimes.com/ 10/14/2013

 

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COOK ISLANDS: Push for More Women to Take on Politics

 

The Cook Islands finance minister says interventions may be needed to fast track greater participation by women in politics. Mark Brown is chairing the 12th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women, being held in the Cook Islands capital, Rarotonga, this week. Two hundred delegates from across the region have gathered for the summit, which is focusing on the link between gender equality and successful development. Brown says changes need to be made to enable greater participation from women in the economy. “It's fundamental that we ensure that the contribution of women into the economy does take place and any barriers or obstacles that inhibit the participation of women in the economy and in business are removed,” Brown told Radio Australia. Brown says it's fortunate that gender inequality, that is prevalent in other countries in the region, is not such an issue in Cook Islands. “In the government service, for example, there is a significant proportion of employees are women... half, I think it is. The number of women in senior positions is increasing. We have a number of women that hold the head-of-ministry positions,” he said.

 

He says, however, this is not the case at a political level. “One of the areas... where we see there is a distinct lack of representation is in the political arena and in parliament,” he said. “This seems to be at odds with women taking on leadership roles because in the traditional leadership arena, the Koutu Nui, which is the council of chiefs, the house of Ariki, which is the council of chiefs as well, there is an equal representation of men and women holding traditional leadership titles. So it's a bit of a surprise that the same representation is not seen at the political level.” Brown says the issue is being addressed by women's groups, and government policy has already made a start on changing the situation. “In particular, the passage of the Employment Relations Act, which the government passed last year, had provisions in there for guaranteeing paid maternity leave and also guaranteeing employment of working mothers at the completion of their maternity leave, entrenched in legislation. (It's) a step in the right direction.” Brown says it's important that equal representation begins at a grass roots level. “We see that taking place with a number of the islands councils (with) women... councillors,” he said. It will probably take a little bit of time to move up and we may have to consider maybe some moves or interventions to try and fast track the representation of women as we've seen in some other countries.”

From RADIO AUSTRALIA 10/22/2013

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FIJI: Civil Service Trade Unions Demand Pay Rise

 

Fiji’s Confederation of Public Sector Unions has given fourteen days to the Public Service Commission to respond to its demand for a one hundred and ten percent pay rise for all civil servants. The Confederation claims it has cited a circular and spoken to some Permanent Secretaries who’ve confirmed receiving the pay rise. Fiji Public Service Association, General Secretary, Rajeshwar Singh claims the three disciplinary heads have received a pay rise of 221 thousand 894 dollars per annum from 1st September. Singh says, the Confederation has always based civil service pay rise on relativity. “If the Permanent Secretary gets one hundred ten percent pay rise his deputy should also get one hundred and ten percent pay rise and down the line that is relativity. Otherwise there will be pay discrimination.” Singh says, they aren’t ruling out the possibility of industrial action. “We will cross the bridge when we come to it. We are not discounting anything.” Members of the Confederation are the Fijian Teachers Association, Fiji Public Service Association and the Fiji Teachers Union. The personal secretary to PSC Permanent Secretary told FBC News, Parmesh Chand will issue a statement on the Confederation’s log of claims.

From FBC NEWS 10/03/2013

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New Project Aims for More Women in Parliament: National Council of Women Fiji

 

National Council of Women Fiji is set to embark on a project that aims to increase the representation of women in parliament, administrative boards and councils in Fiji. The project, Civic Education and Empowerment for More Parliamentarians in Fiji, is funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) and looks at increasing the participation of women within the broader Fijian community in political processes and civic leadership. “As you will be aware the National Council for Women Fiji is involved in various civic education projects for the raising of awareness of women’s organisations and women in the community on elections, voter rights,” said NCW Fiji president, Tauga Vulaono. “Accordingly the National Council for W omen Fiji has entered into partnership with the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) for the conduct of civic education and empowerment for more women in parliament and all levels of leadership,” Vulaono said.

 

UNDEF finances projects that build and strengthen democratic institutions, promote human rights, and ensure the participation of all groups in democratic processes. The Fund provides assistance to governmental, nongovernmental, national, regional, and international organizations, including relevant United Nations departments, offices, funds, programmes and agencies. "We will be officially launching this project on Friday 25th October 2013 from 10:00am, at the Girl Guides Association Hall in Suva," she said. United Nations Resident Representative, Osnat Lubrani is expected to officiate at the function.

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com 10/22/2013

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NEW ZEALAND: Low-Earning Parliamentary Workers Should Be First in Line for Living Wage - Greens

 

The Green Party says low-earning contractors at Parliament, not core public sector workers, should be first in line for a living wage. In a speech at the Council of Trade Unions conference this morning, Greens' co-leader Metiria Turei said her party would have a different priority to Labour in distributing a minimum wage of $18.40 an hour - known as a "living wage".Labour leader David Cunliffe said at the conference yesterday that if his party was elected, he would make sure that all core public sector employees were paid this amount. Ms Turei, whose party was a long-time supporter of the living wage campaign, said some workers outside of the core public sector had a greater need for a pay rise. "We are so pleased that the Labour Party has made such a strong commitment to a living wage and to a living wage for the core public service. But we are also committed to making sure that those people who led the campaign for a living wage, that those who put themselves at the forefront of a political war over decent wages, that those who have taken the greatest risk in this campaign, and those who need the living wage the most are the first off the block. They are our first priority." The party was still calculating the cost of raising wages for the lowest-paid contractors, but Ms Turei said she believed it was relatively inexpensive. At present, Parliament's cleaners earned $14.10 an hour. Later this month, Opposition MPs will spend a night working alongside the cleaners in Parliament to draw attention to what they feet is unequal employment conditions and wages.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 10/10/2013

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA: PM O’Neill Backs Constitutional Reform

 

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has urged the Constitutional Review Commission to seriously consider a reform proposal by New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan. During debate on amendments to the Constitution in parliament last week, Sir Julius suggested it might be time now for Papua New Guinea to consider a move away from the Westminster parliamentary system of government. Sir Julius suggested that a federal government system may be best suited to a country as diverse as PNG, with the prime minister being elected directly by the people during the general election. Since independence, prime ministers have been elected by a vote taken by MPs in parliament after the elections. Sir Julius, one of PNG’s founding fathers, has been campaigning strongly for a move to federalism, and urged parliament to seriously consider a system that was fair and representational for a country like PNG.

 

Sir Julius’ views were heeded by O’Neill, who has written a letter to Tambul-Nebilyer MP Benjamin Poponawa, the chairman of the Constitutional Reform Commission, urging him to start a consultation process. O’Neill said Sir Julius believed the change he was suggesting would consolidate political stability, a vital ingredient for growth and development. “I fully share his views because if we are to progress as a nation, we must continue to find ways to improve and consolidate what we have,” he said. “We must never be afraid of change that will bring stability and prosperity for the future.”

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com 10/03/2013

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PNG New Wages Board to Review National Rate

 

Papua New Guinea's newly-appointed minimum wages board will start conducting public hearings in Mendi, Southern Highlands, to review and set wage determination for the country. The national wage rate set in 2008 was K2.29 (0.86) per hour. Labour and Industrial Relations Minister Mark Maipakai said last Friday the board would review and decide on the appropriateness of all allowances including heavy duty, rural hardship, housing, industry and risk.

 

The 2013 board will:

* Review and determine the appropriateness of the current method, and conditions for wages and where appropriate determine a new national minimum wage;

* Review and determine the appropriateness or otherwise of all allowances, including heavy duty, rural hardship, housing, industry and risk;

* Finalise its findings within three months of the start of the hearings and report to the NEC; and,

* Seek extension from the NEC if need arises.

 

The last wage determination was in 2008 and its decision handed down in January, 2009. The determination lapsed three years later. The previous minimum wage determination of 2008 was summarised as the:

* National wage rate of K2.29 per hour;

* Abolishment of the national youth wage;

* Application for exemption on incapacity to pay;

* Transitional arrangement for application;

* Partial wage payments for the agriculture sector;

* Various allowances; and,

* No flow on effect.

 

Maipakai said the Government recognised the important role of the board and he hoped that all stakeholders, particularly industry leaders, employee and employer organisations, could attend the public hearings.

From THE NATIONAL 10/07/ 2013

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Call for Positive Attitude: PNG Constitutional and Law Reform Commission

 

Constitutional and Law Reform Commission (CLRC) secretary Dr Eric Kwa says Papua New Guinea will have to adopt a more-positive attitude and shrug off the inferiority complex if the country is to move forward. Kwa, Papua New Guinea’s foremost legal expert who is spearheading the review into the Organic Law on provincial government and local level governments, said nothing would happen without positivity and faith in public servants as service deliverers. He said after addressing provincial administrators and other stakeholders on the second day of the two-day inquiry last week, that the way to go was “let’s believe in our own people, let’s trust our own people”. “Let’s believe in ourselves so we can deliver on the outcome of this particular review,” Kwa said.

 

“If we begin from that perspective, we begin to work from that premises, I think things will work out nicely for Papua New Guinea. I’m sick and tired of people battering Papua New Guineans with negativity: they are corrupt, they steal, they are incompetent, they don’t do things properly. This mindset has to change. This is our country, this is our place, we’re going to be here,so let’s believe in ourselves. Change the mindset and change the approach. And let’s begin to think positively to do things positively for our people.” Kwa said to do otherwise would be self-defeating. “I’m suggesting that in this current review, for future laws and future policies, we must have confidence in the people,” he said. “If we have to deliver certain amounts of money to the district, let’s deliver it and let’s believe in our people to deliver on the outcomes. If we’re going to give certain power to district administrators and provincial administrators, let’s give it. Let’s not hold back certain elements: ‘you do some parts, some parts I will do in Port Moresby’. You are already defeating the whole purpose of the law.”

 

Meanwhile, the biggest obstacle to service delivery and development sustainability in the country is attitude, Grand Chief Sir Paulias Matane said in Kokopo. While thanking the government and its leadership for driving new initiatives and promoting its priorities by delivering priority services to the people, he said the greatest challenge that appeared as a problem was the people’s attitude towards vital services and development. “So far the government is doing a good job in delivering services to the people, especially in education and health but one of the biggest problems is the people’s attitude towards these services being delivered,” Sir Paulias said. “We still have so much to do in regard to this. I am disappointed with how we are living. When are we going to learn to start living our lives as true followers of Christ.” He called on people who keet disrespecting public property and causing problems to stop. We can achieve more positive things if we start living the right way. We receive what we give so let us start practising respect for each other and the things and services that are here for our benefit,” he said.

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com 10/14/2013

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Boosting Skills Essential for Tackling Joblessness and Improving Well-Being, Says OECD

 

The low-skilled are more likely than others to be unemployed, have bad health and earn much less, according to the first OECD Survey of Adult Skills. Countries with greater inequality in skills proficiency also have higher income inequality. The OECD Survey of Adult Skills is the new PISA for adults (otherwise known as PIAAC). The Survey measured the skills of 16 to 65-year olds across 24 countries* and looked at how literacy, numeracy and problem-solving is used at work.  It provides clear evidence of how developing and using skills improves employment prospects and quality of life as well as boosting economic growth. It helps countries set meaningful targets benchmarked against the achievements of the world’s leading skills systems and to develop relevant policy responses. “Too many people are being left behind today,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría “With effective education and life-long learning everyone can develop their full potential. The benefits are clear, not only for individuals, but also for societies and for the economy.”

 

Launching the report in Brussels with with Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Mr. Gurría added. “Learning does not stop at school: governments, businesses and people can and must continue investing in skills throughout life. (Read the full speech)” The survey shows that high quality initial education is an important predictor for success in adult life. But countries must combine this with flexible, skills-oriented learning opportunities throughout life, in particular for working-age adults. The results reveal the challenges some major economies face in boosting their skills levels. In reading, over one in five adults in Italy (27.7%), Spain (27.5%) and France (21.6%) perform at or below the most basic level, compared with one in twenty Japanese (4.9%) and one in ten Finns (10.6%). Almost one in three adults in Italy (31.7%), Spain (30.6%) and the United States (28.7%) perform at or below the most basic level of numeracy, compared to around one in ten in Japan (8.2%), Finland (12.8%) and the Czech Republic (12.8%). The Survey also reveals the extent of the “digital divide”, with millions failing to master even simple computer skills, such as using a computer mouse. This ranges from nearly one in four adults in Italy, Korea, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Spain to one in fourteen adults in the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

 

Key findings

Progress across generations

Some countries have made impressive progress over recent decades in equipping more people with better literacy and numeracy skills. Young Koreans, for example, are outperformed only by their Japanese peers, while Korea’s 55 to 64 year-olds are among the three lowest-performing groups of this age. Older Finns perform around the average, while younger Finns are among the top performers, together with Japan, Korea and the Netherlands. But in England and the United States, the literacy and numeracy skills of young people entering the labour market are no better than those leaving for retirement. England ranks among the top three countries surveyed for literacy skills among the 55-65 year-olds. But the country is in the bottom three when it comes to such skills among 16-25 year-olds. American 55-65 year-olds perform around the average, but young Americans rank the lowest among their peers in the 24 countries surveyed.

 

Gap between skills and educational qualifications

The Survey revealed large differences in some cases between a person’s actual skill levels and their educational qualifications. In most countries at least a quarter of university graduates fall into the bottom two levels out of five on the literacy test. But in Australia, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands and Norway, more than one in four adults without a high school degree achieved Level 3, showing that people can learn skills despite limited early schooling.

 

Impact of social background varies

Social background has a strong impact on skills in some countries. The children of parents with low levels of education in England, Germany, Italy, Poland and the US have much weaker reading skills than their peers with better educated parents. In contrast, Australia, Estonia, Japan and Sweden show the smallest difference between these two groups.

 

Economic and social impact of skills

On average, the median hourly wage of workers scoring at the top levels (levels 4 & 5) on the literacy scale is 61% higher than that of workers scoring at or below Level 1. Differences in this “return on investment” vary widely: in several countries, such as the Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Sweden, the gap in wages is relatively narrow, but is much wider in the United States, Korea, Ireland, Canada and Germany. Adults with low skills are also more likely to place less trust in others and feel less civically engaged compared with the highly skilled.

 

Challenges for immigrants

Immigrants performed worse than the native-born, especially those who did not learn the language of their new country as a child. But skills proficiency improves with length of stay in the host country, pointing to the important role of integration policies.

 

Adult learning

The highly skilled were on average three times more likely to take part in further training than the low skilled. The Survey suggests that Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden have been most successful in boosting adult learning rates among the low-skilled. But countries with large shares of low-skilled adults, such as Canada, England and Northern Ireland, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the US, will need to do more to make adult learning more accessible, especially in the workplace.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 10/08/2013

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Reform R&D Tax Systems to Boost Innovation and Help Young Firms, Says OECD

 

Most OECD governments use tax incentives to encourage businesses to invest in research and development (R&D) to boost innovation and drive economic growth. Others, like China, India and South Africa, are doing the same. But reforming these incentives would give countries a better return on their investment and support young innovative firms that play a crucial role in job creation, according to a new OECD report. Supporting Investment in Knowledge Capital, Growth and Innovation says that over a third of all public support for business R&D in the OECD is via tax incentives. Multinational enterprises (MNEs) benefit the most, as they can use tax planning strategies to maximise their support for innovation. This can create an unlevel playing field that disadvantages purely domestic and young firms, says the OECD. “Much more needs to be done to help young firms play a greater role in driving innovation and creating jobs. They are the future of the knowledge economy and need the same chance to succeed as the major players. Improving their access to finance and making the tax rules fair for everyone is key,” said Andrew Wyckoff, OECD Director of Science, Technology and Industry at the launch of the report in Brussels.

 

The tax rules that enable MNEs to shift profits from intellectual assets, such as patents, are already being reviewed as part of the OECD’s Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. Governments should also review their R&D tax incentive schemes as part of this broader effort. This would reduce the risk that countries are foregoing significant tax revenues in their drive to boost investment but do not see a commensurate rise in innovation in their economy. Important aspects of tax schemes that should be reviewed include the scope of eligible R&D, the firms that qualify and the treatment of large R&D performers. This is important as in many countries the current schemes may be more costly than intended, particularly as tax relief has become more generous in recent years and the full cost is not always transparent as these incentives are considered “off budget” as a tax expenditure. Helping young firms is crucial: evidence from 15 OECD countries suggests that these firms generated nearly half of all new jobs over the past decade, despite accounting for only about 20% of total business sector jobs, excluding finance. These firms, of five years of age or less, often do not generate enough profit to make use of non-refundable tax incentives. Better policies to help them would be cash refunds, carry forwards or the use of payroll withholding tax credits for R&D related wages.

 

OECD analysis also suggests that well-designed direct support, such as grants and contracts, may be more effective in stimulating R&D than previously thought, especially for young firms. The report also analyses other areas where governments and business could boost returns on knowledge-based capital, a key driver of growth in today’s global economy. Systems of debt and early-stage equity finance are essential to encouraging investment. Countries should review their bankruptcy laws to spur innovation: reducing the stringency of these laws from the highest to the average level in the OECD could raise capital flows to patenting firms by around 35%, according to the report. Intellectual property rules also need updating, especially to avoid an erosion of patent quality. Greater mutual recognition and comparability of rules internationally would help.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 10/10/2013

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ITU Launches WSIS Project Prize 2014 Competition

 

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has launched the annual WSIS Project Prize 2014 competition for the third time in a row. The competition seeks to recognise excellence in the implementation of projects and initiatives which further the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) goals of improving connectivity to information and communication technologies (ICTs), particularly within underserved communities. Organised into four phases which will run until mid-April, the contest includes 18 categories directly linked to the WSIS Action Lines outlined in the Geneva Plan of Action. Winners for each category will be announced at an award ceremony on 13 April, during the WSIS+10 High-Level Event.

From http://www.telecompaper.com/ 10/11/2013

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World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings 2013: Development Committee Communique

 

1.       The Development Committee met today, October 12, 2013, in Washington DC.

 

2.  Latest signs of recovery among developed economies, encouraging as they are, remain uneven, and the growth of some emerging economies is slowing. Addressing increased volatility and achieving strong, balanced, and sustainable global growth, will continue to require appropriate policy responses and reforms in countries of all income levels.  The World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) must remain vigilant to the emergence of new sources of volatility and downside risks. We welcome the intensified focus of the IMF on growth and job creation, as well as on the analysis of risks and vulnerabilities and the assessment of the global impact of policy changes in systemically important countries. Safeguarding and further building on the openness and fairness of the international trading system remains vital to global growth and in this context we look forward to progress at the World Trade Organization’s upcoming Bali Ministerial Conference.

 

3. Tremendous progress over the last two decades has reshaped the development landscape. It has created new opportunities to help reduce poverty and promote shared prosperity, but it has also introduced new risks to sustaining progress. Although the global poverty rate has fallen by half since 1990, progress within the developing world has been highly uneven. Roughly half of the low income countries are classified as Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations (FCS), which pose particular challenges and are home to a growing share of the world’s extreme poor.

 

4.  In many developing countries, growth has been accompanied by rising inequality. Transitioning to middle-income status does not signal the end of poverty, as the majority of the world’s poor still live in middle income countries.  A lack of sustained progress in building shared prosperity may eventually obstruct growth by causing instability, distorting incentives and reducing upward mobility. Job creation, especially for youth and women, and private sector development are key for inclusive growth.

 

5. The two ambitious goals for the WBG, to end extreme poverty by 2030 and promote shared prosperity in an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable manner, endorsed at our last meeting, offer an important contribution to the post 2015-agenda.  In order to achieve the goals, we strongly endorse the new WBG Strategy. We welcome the repositioning of the institution as “One World Bank Group” that works with the public and private sectors in partnership, contributes to the global development agenda through dialogue and action, supports clients in delivering customized development solutions, and helps advance knowledge about what works in development.

 

6. The WBG has an important role to play in delivering global development results, supporting countries with their specific development challenges, and helping them eradicate poverty and build resilience to future financial, economic, social, and environmental challenges. We stress the need for a continued strong client orientation that recognizes the diversity and development needs of countries. Special attention must be paid to countries and regions with the highest incidence of poverty, to FCS, as well as to the unique challenges facing small states.  We also reaffirm the crucial role of the WBG in helping the international community address major global challenges, including climate change.  To achieve maximum impact, the WBG needs to be selective in its efforts, while collaborating with partner organizations and the private sector at both national and global levels, and facilitating south-south cooperation and regional integration in pursuit of its goals.

 

7. Success of the Strategy requires effective, timely, and well-managed implementation, including clear sequencing of reforms and specific metrics for major changes, as well as regular communication with WBG stakeholders. An evidence-based, country engagement model; supportive reforms to the WBG’s internal organization, systems, processes and procedures; human resources and leadership management in promoting and modeling the needed culture change will be crucial. We call on the WBG to continue delivering on its mandate during the transition period and to refine its monitoring and evaluation framework to measure progress and assess performance, adjust actions and show results to better satisfy clients’ needs. An updated Corporate Scorecard reflecting the new Strategy should be in place by our next Spring Meetings.

 

8. A robust IDA 17 replenishment, with strong participation from all members, is fundamental for delivering on the WBG Strategy. Needs and demands among IDA countries remain high, and we must seek replenishment with the scale, quality and policy content that will allow IDA to achieve substantial results.

 

9. We welcome measures to utilize existing resources better and strengthen the WBG’s financial capacity to align it with the ambition of its strategy. We call on the WBG to pursue a finance work program that envisages lifting the growth trend of revenues, resetting expenditures to a leaner cost base by improving organizational and operational efficiencies, and better mobilizing internal and external resources to enhance the WBG’s capacity to deliver more development assistance while paying due attention to risk.  We welcome the WBG work on innovative approaches to mobilize and catalyze additional long term financing for infrastructure, which is critical for growth, prosperity and poverty reduction in emerging and low income countries.

 

10. We emphasize the importance of further mainstreaming and strengthening WBG support for gender equality through better analysis, targeted actions, and more robust monitoring and evaluation. Gender equality is important, both in its own right and also as a means of pursuing the overarching goals for poverty reduction and shared prosperity. We welcome continuing work on updating and renewing the WBG’s strategy for promoting gender equality and look forward to a progress report in a year.

 

11. We commend the WBG and its staff for their initiatives in fragile situations like the Great Lakes and the Sahel Region and for their work with refugees in the Middle East. We also welcome the WBG’s strengthened support to Myanmar after its reengagement. We call on the WBG to deepen further its commitment in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa through initiatives that, in coordination with the UN system, address vulnerability and resilience, and promote economic opportunity and integration. We welcome renewed WBG support to transformative regional projects, including for sustainable and affordable energy solutions. We urge the WBG and IMF to scale up their efforts in the Middle East and North Africa region, including support for sound economic reform, job creation, capacity-building programs, and the basic human needs of conflict affected people as well as mitigation of the impact on neighboring countries.

 

12.  The next meeting of the Development Committee is scheduled for April 12, 2014, in Washington DC.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 10/12/2013

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Joint Statement by Multilateral Institutions on Trade Facilitation Assistance

 

The Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia on 3-6 December 2013 offers an opportunity to conclude a WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement that will deliver tangible economic benefits for developing and least-developed countries. We urge WTO members to seize this opportunity. At our meetings here in Washington we had the opportunity to discuss preparations for the Bali ministerial meeting. We are encouraged by the renewed engagement by WTO members on trade facilitation and other issues of interest to developing countries, including least-developed countries. We would like to reiterate our strong collective commitment to support trade facilitation. A growing body of research points to the positive development impact of trade facilitation. Tackling inefficiency in clearing goods and shortening delays can reduce the cost of getting goods to market with positive effects on competitiveness and consumer welfare. Our institutions are engaged in a broad range of trade-related infrastructure projects.  Since 2008, we have disbursed $22 billion in concessional support for economic infrastructure and building productive capacity in developing countries.  With strong evidence that trade facilitation reforms help maximize the economic impact of our trade-related infrastructure assistance, our support to trade facilitation programs has more than doubled since 2008.

 

A WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement would add significant momentum to efforts to increase developing country competitiveness, and provide a multilateral framework to shape and guide trade facilitation efforts taking place at the regional and national level. In July 2013, together with more than 20 other organizations and governments, we stated our strong commitment to support developing countries, and in particular least-developed countries, in the full and effective implementation of a WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. We recognize that concerns persist in the negotiations about access to and coherence of assistance. We will work with the WTO and its members to help ensure that the new commitments that a trade facilitation agreement would bring are supported.  We will also work to ensure that our support for the implementation of commitments is coordinated with our support for complementary infrastructure development. To implement a WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, we recognize we will need to discuss further how to ensure a coordinated and effective response to requests for support from developing countries, and in particular least-developed countries.

From http://www.adb.org/news/ 10/13/2013

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Warming May Harm Millions

 

Around 150,000 Vietnamese lives may be at risk and another five million may contract harmful diseases due to global warming, according to research from the World Health Organisation (WHO). The information was released in a workshop called "Mainstreaming an ecosystem based approach (EAB) to climate change into biodiversity conservation planning in Viet Nam" held on Tuesday. It was jointly organised by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Asian Development Bank (ADB), and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). According to the WHO's research, the number of affected people may double by 2030, posing serious threats to the country's economic development and human life. For his part, ADB director Tomoyki Kimura said climate change posed serious threats to Viet Nam, adding that around 8.5 million people would be displaced and 30 per cent of traffic infrastructure would be destroyed if water levels rose one meter higher than current levels. "At the same time, at least 25 per cent of agricultural land would become salt-marsh", he added.

 

According to Raji Dhital from the WWF, climate change also posed a devastating threat to biodiversity. In the Greater Mekong Sub-region alone, between 133 and 2,835 species of flora and 10 to 213 species of spinal fauna were said to be in danger of extinction. Dhital also emphasised the need to recover mangrove forests and develop sustainable forestry to adapt to the effects of climate change. An ecosystem-based approach is a strategy for integrating the management of land, water and living resources. EBA promotes the equitable conservation and sustainable use of resources and helps people and biodiversity adapt to the adverse impacts of environmental change, including climate change. The mainstreaming of EBA into policy provides a cost-effective way to improve the management of natural resources. Apart from generating social, economic and cultural benefits, the strategy may also help to boost ecosystem resilience. According to experts, Viet Nam has achieved positive results from the use of EBAs in small and medium projects but has little experience mainstreaming EBAs into development planning.

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 10/17/2013

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Boosting Regional Trade in Financial Products: Asia Region Funds Passport

 

Ministers from Australia, Korea, New Zealand and Singapore signed a Statement of Intent last Friday on the Asia Region Funds Passport, paving the way for increased regional trade in financial products. The Asia Region Funds Passport provides a multilaterally agreed framework allowing the cross-border issuing of funds across the participating economies. “The Passport is an exciting step forward in helping break down some of the barriers between our economies to facilitate more investment across the region,” said Joe Hockey, Australia’s Treasurer, in his opening remarks at the signing ceremony. “At the end of the day, the Passport will deliver prosperity through better funded infrastructure and better funded investment more generally,” he added. The Asia Region Funds Passport will mean operators of collective investment schemes based in passport member economies will be able offer their schemes to investors in other passport member economies, subject to a streamlined regulatory process. The Passport represents a practical step towards better integrated financial markets in the APEC region. “This is not an initiative to benefit the intermediaries. It’s not an initiative to benefit fund managers. Ultimately it’s an initiative to benefit investors and the borrowers,” explained Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister, Thaman Shanmugaratnam. “It’s really about deepening the capital markets by bringing together investors with borrowers that’s the whole objective,” he continued.

 

Since 2010, the Finance Ministers’ Process has served as a region-wide working platform for finance policy makers, regulators, industry and technical experts to collaborate and examine how an Asia Region Funds Passport could be made to work and deliver the intended benefits to the region.  Policy and technical workshops have been conducted to consider the full range of technical issues and options that would need to be addressed prior to establishing the Asia Region Funds Passport. “Today’s signing is the first step to deliver tangible outcomes of APEC financial cooperation,” said Hyun Oh-Seo, Korea’s Deputy Prime Minister. By providing the opportunity to bring investors and borrowers together, Jonathan Coleman, New Zealand’s Associate Minister of Finance Minister, explained, “This initiative will be great in terms of raising the capital that we need across the region to build infrastructure, trillions of dollars are going to be needed over the next decade.” The goal of the Asia Region Funds Passport is to become a broader, more inclusive regional scheme over time as more economies join. Capacity building represents an important element of this initiative and is designed to assist the developing economies enhance their potential to join the Asia Region Funds Passport in the future.

From http://www.apec.org/ 09/24/2013

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Improving Connectivity Strengthens Regional Linkages but Gaps Still Exist, Says Study

 

A comprehensive study reviewing the current state of connectivity in the APEC region and its key challenges was presented to Senior Officials on Tuesday by the APEC Policy Support Unit. The study analyzed institutional, physical and people-to-people connectivity in the region as well as mapped other regional initiatives and identified the gaps and opportunities for APEC moving forward. “It is crucial to view the three concepts of connectivity within a holistic framework because they are interrelated,” said Dr Denis Hew, Director of the APEC Policy Support Unit. “Improved institutional connectivity, such as better customs cooperation, will strengthen transport linkages,” added Dr Hew. “Improvement in physical connectivity, for example, better air transport infrastructure, will in turn, also facilitate the movement of business people and tourists and enhance people-to-people connectivity.”

 

Under institutional connectivity, progress has been made by APEC in trade facilitation and many behind-the-border issues. The study notes that trade costs within APEC are quite comparable with other regional groupings. For example, several APEC economies that border each other have attained similar level of trade costs with the EU-3 (France, Germany, and the UK), according to 2010 bilateral data from the Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific and the World Bank (ESCAP-WB) database. “Issues such as behind-the-border barriers, trade facilitation, and non-tariff barriers are crucial areas where APEC can improve institutional connectivity. Efforts including customs modernization, the single window initiative, and structural reforms fall under this category. More recent agenda items cover transport and logistics facilitation,” explained Dr Akhmad Bayhaqi, Senior Analyst, APEC Policy Support Unit.

 

Some critical gaps remain. “For example, the single window system faces challenges such as high development cost, lack of political support and coordination among government agencies, and varied level of IT readiness,” added Dr Bayhaqi. Under the area of physical connectivity, six APEC economies occupied the top six positions in 2012, according to the UNCTAD Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (LSC), an indicator which aims to capture how well an economy is connected to global shipping networks. Other APEC economies have also been making steadfast progress in connecting to these networks. Nevertheless, there is room for improvement on the competence and quality of APEC economies’ maritime transport services. With respect to people-to-people connectivity, 91 percent of APEC Business Travel Card holders enjoyed a positive experience with the program, which currently consists of 120,000 travellers.

 

APEC economies engaged in more than USD $2 trillion in cross-border service trade each year from 2007-2011 and intra-regional service trade has been growing by 7 percent per year, making labor mobility critical for the region. “In particular, there is still substantial room for the tourism industry to expand, making air transport infrastructure a critical part of enhancing people-to-people connectivity in the tourism sector,” said Dr Bayhaqi. The study also identified challenges and opportunities for APEC in the three main connectivity areas including structural reform, customs, multi-modal connectivity, and public private partnerships for infrastructure, and visa facilitation.

From http://www.apec.org/ 10/02/2013

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Power Swaps Can Help Asia-Pacific Manage Daunting Future Energy Needs – Report

 

Cross-border power exchanges can play a central role in helping Asia and the Pacific meet its booming demand for power, which is set to sharply outpace the rest of the world’s over the next two decades, says a comprehensive new report from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). “Our projections show the region will consume more than half the world’s energy supply by 2035, with electricity consumption more than doubling as economic growth and rising affluence drive demand,” said S. Chander, Special Senior Advisor, Infrastructure and Public-Private Partnerships at ADB. “Countries cannot meet these huge power requirements all on their own, so the region must accelerate cross-border interconnection of electricity and gas grids to improve efficiencies, cut costs, and take advantage of surplus energy.” The Energy Outlook for Asia and the Pacific report provides in-depth data and projections on energy use at the sub-region, country, and sector levels until 2035, along with an analysis of the impacts of a “business as usual” approach to power, and an alternative approach in which countries scale up efficiencies and low carbon technologies.

 

Fossil fuels will continue to dominate the energy mix in the coming decades, with the demand for coal set to rise by more than 50% over the outlook period, or nearly 2% a year, led by consumption in the People’s Republic of China and a pickup in use in Southeast Asia as countries look for low cost options to diversify existing supply sources. Oil demand will also grow by 2% a year, led by the transport sector, with newly affluent South Asians buying an increasing number of motor vehicles. Natural gas demand will expand at the fastest annual pace of 4% because of the lower environmental burden and ease of use. The reliance on fossil fuels presents major pricing, energy security, and environmental challenges, with Asia and the Pacific’s carbon dioxide emissions set to double by 2035, making up more than half the world’s total output. Without reducing its heavy reliance on oil imports, using power more efficiently, and adopting more green energy options, the region will see a growing energy divide between the rich and poor, and increasing threats from climate change. Using a mix of efficiency measures, advanced generation technologies, and greater use of renewable power could almost halve the projected annual rise in energy demand through to 2035. More efficient oil refining and gas processing, along with a reduction in demand for electricity, offer the bulk of the energy savings potential.

 

There are big opportunities for building on existing cross-border power exchange initiatives in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Central Asia, with the ultimate goal of establishing a pan-Asia energy market by 2030. Closer cooperation will have other positive spinoffs including new economic opportunities and warmer relations. Meeting the region’s energy needs will come at a hefty cost with estimates the sector will require new investments of about $11.7 trillion through to 2035, based on business-as-usual power use patterns. The investments swell to about $19.9 trillion under the alternative approach because of the adoption of pricey advanced coal and natural gas fired generation technologies, and low carbon options like wind and solar energy. Finding ways of removing current regulatory barriers are crucial for the broader use of renewable energy. The report was prepared by a team from the Asia Pacific Energy Research Center of the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, under an ADB regional technical assistance project.

From http://www.adb.org/ 10/14/2013

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CHINA: Li Praises Foreign Experts for Contribution

 

Premier Li Keqiang had high praise for the work of foreign experts in China and their efforts for the country, and he emphasized that China will continue to invite more of them to work here."Through the foreign experts, we have got the opportunity to learn about the advanced technology and administrative experience of developed economies," Li said while meeting the winners of 2013 Chinese Government Friendship Award on Monday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing."Inviting foreign experts has aided China in opening up. It benefits the Chinese people and the whole world," Li said.Fifty foreign experts form 20 countries received the 2013 Friendship Award, the Chinese government's top honor for foreign experts.The annual award was established in 1991, and it has since been bestowed on 1,299 foreign experts from more than 60 countries and regions.

 

More than 550,000 foreign experts were working in China last year.Li said China will continue to invite high-end foreign experts during a "critical period of China's modernization construction".He also encouraged more foreign experts to work in western China, which is less developed.The honorees at the event at the Great Hall of the People were encouraged by Li's words."It's great that China and the Chinese government appreciate our help and recognize what we have done," said Eberhard Lell, 86, of the Austrian Senior Experts Pool, an association of experts that offers help to developing economies."I will do my best to send experts to China and to help China develop. We are willing to give experience and knowledge to developing countries like China," Lell said.

 

John Naisbitt, founder of Naisbitt China Institute, was also impressed."The premier is very generous and knowledgeable," said Naisbitt, 84. "I'm especially impressed and excited about his mentioning western China. The west of China is growing rapidly. We foreign experts should go there."To more efficiently introduce foreign talents to China, an official from the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs announced that the country will publish a list of the work skills most in demand to aid overseas recruitment next year."We'll do research with human resource departments and employers to learn what types of workers they feel are hard to find," said Liu Yanguo, deputy director of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/01/2013 

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Study of Scientific Outlook on Development Stressed

 

Members and officials of the Communist Party of China (CPC) have been told to strengthen studies and practice of China's Scientific Outlook on Development theory.The instructions were carried in a statement released after a Monday meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, which was presided over by CPC leader Xi Jinping.The meeting reviewed the Guideline on the Study of the Scientific Outlook on Development and reached a decision to release the document among the whole of the Party.According to the statement, the guideline expatiates on the meaning, scientific connotations and spiritual essence of the Scientific Outlook on Development. It also lays down basic requirements for the implementation of the theory.The Scientific Outlook on Development was put forward in 2003 at the Third Plenary Session of the 16th CPC Central Committee to facilitate overall, coordinated and sustainable development.The statement said that the guideline provides crucial references for all CPC members, officials and the people to study and grasp the theory while pointing out its inner connections with Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thoughts of Three Represents.

 

According to the statement, the Scientific Outlook on Development should be studied alongside Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the Three Represents. It should also incorporate study of the history of the CPC and the country as well as major decisions and arrangements made by the central authorities.The statement stressed promoting economic and social development, people-oriented standpoints, sustainable development and overall planning taking all factors into consideration as key principles that should be adapted by students during study.CPC members and officials were urged to associate the study with their own work and local realities, with a special focus on researching and solving major issues in reform and development as well as people's urgent needs in life and work.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/01/2013

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Chinese Mainland Universities Climb Up World Rankings

 

Times Higher Education published its new world universities rankings yesterday. Universities from the Chinese mainland climbed up with two edging into top 50.Peking University creeps up one place to 45th, while Tsinghua University rises two places to joint 50th."Both universities improve their positions and edge closer to the best in the world. Both act as national flagship institutions, attracting global talent and inspiring others," said Phil Baty, editor of Times Higher Education Rankings. Four other universities entered the list of top 300, namely the Fudan University, the University of Science and Technology of China, the Renmin University and the Nanjing University. The Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the Wuhan University of Technology, the Zhejiang University and the Sun Yat-sen University followed, bringing the total number of universities from the Chinese mainland on the top 400 list to 10.The University of Hong Kong fell eight places to 43rd, but the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Chinese University of Hong Kong reached 57th and 109th.

 

Thirteen indicators across five areas have been taken into account, making this world rankings to examine the core missions of a modern global university that included research, teaching, knowledge transfer and international activity. On top of the list is the California Institute of Technology as last year, followed by Harvard University and the University of Oxford as joint second. The University of Cambridge is the seventh. Japan's University of Tokyo maintains its status as Asia's number one and moves up four places to 23rd. The National University of Singapore holds on to second place in the region, moving from 29th to 26th and overtaking Australia's University of Melbourne in the process. Baty noticed a trend of East Asian universities rising up. "More Asian institutions are nipping at the heels of the best in the West, increasingly occupying world top 50 places and showing no signs of letting up," he said.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/03/2013

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Overburdened Scenic Spots Urged to Improve Management

 

China's holiday-coordination authorities on Thursday urged popular scenic spots to improve their management to cope with surging tourist flows following soaring complaints of nightmarish experiences at overcrowded sites.As China's seven-day National Day Holiday -- during which millions of Chinese flocked on the road for the "Golden Week" -- stretches into the third day, the hustle and bustle of crowds at major tourist attractions continued to plague outgoing travellers.In response to mounting public grumbles, the National Holiday Office on Thursday issued an emergency notice asking the scenic spots to timely disclose reception information and tap capabilities to avoid unpleasant episodes.Jiuzhaigou Valley, a World Heritage site in southwest China which is famous for its colorful water pools, snowy mountains, deep valleys and forests, got into trouble on Wednesday when its shuttle buses failed to cope with a rush of 40,000 tourists.More than 4,000 of them stranded in the valley were not evacuated until 10 p.m. on Wednesday. The whole traffic system was paralyzed after some visitors lost patience and tried to stop buses and get aboard, according to the valley administration which later apologized for insufficient measures.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/04/2013

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China to Tighten Checks During Travel Rush

 

China on Saturday ordered its police force to tighten safety checks on major roads and at public venues to ensure the public's security as the week-long National Day Holiday draws to an end.Police checks during the last three days of the holiday, which runs from Oct. 1 to 7, will focus on charter buses as well as speeding, overloading and driver fatigue, said Vice Minister of Public Security Huang Ming at a meeting.Huang told police to use the media, Internet, mobile phone text messages and electronic screens to publicize traffic safety information and guide traffic flow.Special efforts should be made in areas where there are severe weather conditions, such as typhoon or haze, he said.Police were also told to increase patrols at major tourist attractions and venues over the next three days to ensure security.During the Sept. 30 to Oct. 7 rush in 2012, 794 people were killed and more than 2,400 injured in road accidents. The "Golden Week" combined the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holidays last year.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/05/2013

 

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China Tightens Management of Poverty-Relief Funds

 

The Chinese government on Tuesday vowed to strengthen management of public funds used to ensure people's livelihood, such as poverty-relief funds.Poverty-relief funds have long been a safety net for the poor and a catalyst for poverty reduction in China, according to a statement released after a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang.Recent audits have found that some localities falsified eligibility information to claim the funds, embezzled the funds, failed to channel the funds to needy places, and executed weak supervision over the use of the funds, according to the statement.The statement also said that the government vows to severely crack down on embezzlement and corruption in managing such funds and to make sure the funds will benefit needy people.

 

To effectively manage such funds, the government decided to clarify the responsibilities of authorities at different levels. County-level governments are responsible for assigning funds to various poverty-reduction projects, while provincial and city governments should act as supervisors.Individuals in need of poverty relief will be entered into a database so that funds can flow to pinpointed villages and households.Innovative fund management methods, such as government procurement of social services using the funds and financial institution involvement in poverty reduction projects, were encouraged at the State Council meeting.Apart from such "safety net" funds, the State Council urged sound management of all public assets, particularly those pertaining to social security, basic living allowance, medical insurance and affordable housing.All departments under the State Council were ordered to prevent corruption and abuse of public assets, and auditing departments were urged to extend their work to all government-funded projects.

 

The government will boost supervision over fund use through third-party evaluation and increased transparency in an effort to "build a clean government and to make sure the government lives on a shoestring budget while the people live comfortably," according to the statement.The State Council also urged efforts to fully capitalize on stock assets and put idle funds to use to help control government deficits.Also at Tuesday's meeting, a regulation was passed targeting pollution resulting from poultry and livestock husbandry.According to the regulation, husbandry-generated pollution has become the major source of environmental pollution in the countryside, and tackling the problem will help restructure the industry and prevent avian influenza.The State Council ordered incentives be handed out to encourage centralized and standardized husbandry, and vowed to hold polluters accountable and support recycling and decontamination of husbandry waste.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/09/2013

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China's Top Leaders Urge Improving Rural Conditions

 

Top Chinese leaders have urged improving the working and living conditions in rural areas, citing successes in the eastern province of Zhejiang over the past decade.Hailing achievements in improving the rural environment in Zhejiang, President Xi Jinping has called for spreading the province's experience nationwide.Zhejiang, located on China's eastern coast, launched a project in 2003 to renovate houses and living facilities in the countryside, improve rural design and planning, and enhance the rural ecological and human environment.Xi noted that governments in other areas should tailor measures to cater to their own circumstances rather than simply duplicating Zhejiang's approach.Premier Li Keqiang has also urged local authorities to show respect for farmers' wishes and carry on traditional culture when devising measures or policies.China's hundreds of millions of rural citizens expect better living conditions, Li said.Vice Premier Wang Yang said that efforts should be focused on the disposal of waste and sewage and the building of infrastructure in the countryside.Financial support will be increased for safeguarding rural residents' security of housing and transportation as well as drinking water safety.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/09/2013

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China to Monitor Public Service Vehicles

 

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has asked local authorities to identify and trace public service vehicles using GPS devices and special markings in an effort to prevent corruption, Beijing Times reports.The commission made the decision following suggestions submitted to the National People's Congress last March by an NPC member in south China's Guangdong province.The new system should monitor all public service vehicles in order to prevent them from being used for private purposes.Some provinces and regions in China have already started the monitoring system which has effectively reduced expenses.The CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection will establish a new set of regulations related to public service vehicles, designed to eliminate corruption at the root of the problem.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/11/2013

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Chinese Vote on Public Holiday Arrangements

 

The Chinese public have been voting online about the country's public holidays, with many wanting current arrangements to be changedThe government set up a poll on China's major news website portals including Sina, Sohu and Tencent on Thursday. Voting will end Saturday.

As of midday Friday, nearly 400,000 voters had taken part in the poll on the Sina platform alone.Results from Sina showed nearly 82 percent of voters are unhappy with current public holiday arrangements. Fifty-six percent believed arrangements for long holidays, such as the seven-day National Day holiday which means part of the weekend either before it or after it is a working day, should be scrapped. This year, the Sunday before the national holiday, which was between Oct. 1-7, was a normal working day. The following Saturday after the holiday is also a working day.More than 57 percent of Sina voters think the nation's single-day traditional holidays, such as Tomb-sweeping Day and Mid-autumn Day, should not be extended to a three-day holiday by deducting weekend days.

 

On Tencent, voting showed similar results. Most voters are aged 20 to 40 and account for more than 70 percent of total participants.Most people are opposed to the deduction of weekends in order to piece together week-long or three-day holidays. They also want the country's most important holiday, the Spring Festival, to be longer than seven days. This is because traveling to visit family can sometimes take days.A netizen with the screen name Ningbo Weiyu said the Spring Festival holiday should be extended to two weeks as it would give people more time to spend more money. This would help with economic restructuring because there would be more consumption.The netizen also said weekends should not be deducted.A netizen with the screen name Solomon-W said using last week's National Day holiday as an example, tourists were either in traffic jams or at heavily crowded scenic spots.Another netizen with the screen name Ganxuehong said current arrangements make traveling a tiring job in itself.The netizen said the public have the right to long holidays but suggested employers in different regions decide when to offer vacation time to their employees in order to lessen crowds.

 

Official data showed that Chinese tourists made a total of 428 million trips during last week's National Day holiday, up 0.7 percent year on year.Analysts said the vote shows that the government is becoming more service-oriented. The government wants the public to take part in the vote and offer opinions.Liu Simin, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said, "We should notice that the launch of such a vote after the National Day holiday, which ended on Oct. 7, is a kind and positive response to people's concerns from the government."The vote comes amid the Chinese government's emphasis on transformation of governmental functions, which aims for better public services in efforts to deepen the country's reform.Also on Friday, the Chinese central government's website www.gov.cn, opened an account on the nation's most popular Internet-based mobile platform WeChat, a social networking application of Tencent. The government said this will allow the public to receive government information first hand and in a timely manner.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/11/2013

 

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China Cracks Down on Illegal Publications

 

The Chinese government is to launch a crackdown on a wide range of publishing and journalistic misconduct such as unlicensed publications, fake reporters and re-sales of publishing rights.From mid-October, the two-month action will also target publications containing illegal content, the use of advertising space to post non-advertising content, and domestic publication with overseas publishing licenses, among other offenses, according to a circular that was officially released on Thursday and made public on Saturday.The campaign is jointly planned by the National Anti-Pornography and Anti-Illegal Publications Office and the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, which also released the statement."Illegal newspapers and magazines as well as bogus reporters still exist in some regions despite continuous crackdowns. They have been harming people's interests, disrupting the order of grassroots work, damaging the media's credibility and affecting the overall stability of society," according to the circular.It said the crackdown will focus on wholesale markets and vendors of books, papers and magazines while imposing intensified online supervision to clean up illegal publications on the Internet.Calling for a "people's war" to eradicate illegal publications, the circular encouraged public tip-offs on the above-mentioned misconduct and vowed severe punishments for violators.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/13/2013

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China to Advance Reforms to Improve Quality of Growth

 

China will continue to pursue reforms to improve the quality and efficiency of economic development, while maintaining macroeconomic stability, said China 's central bank deputy chief on Saturday."The Chinese economy maintained a solid growth pace. Real GDP grew by 7.6 percent on a year-on-year basis in the first half of 2013, within a reasonable growth range," said Yi Gang, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, in a statement to the meeting of International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC), the policy-setting body of International Monetary Fund (IMF)."The most recent economic data indicate that the Chinese economy will continue to grow at a steady pace in the near term and is on track to reach this year's growth target of 7.5 percent, " he continued.Yi noted that conditions are in place for China to undertake further interest rate liberalization and capital account convertibility, and the Chinese authorities remain committed to exchange rate reform.

 

"Private sector participation in the economy will also be encouraged," he said, adding that the government is strongly determined to promote urbanization and strengthen social protection.Yi also said while unconventional monetary policies helped stabilize growth and financial markets in advanced economies after major crises, more attention should be given to the risks associated with the prolonged use and disorderly exit of such policies.He also urged the completion of the IMF 2010 quota and governance reform, calling on those countries which have not ratified the reform package to do so as soon as possible.As substantial uncertainties remain in the global economic outlook, Yi said policymakers have to strengthen their efforts, particularly in setting comprehensive growth and reform strategies, in order to set the global economy on a path of strong, sustainable, and balanced growth.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/13/2013

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China Seeks to Boost Intl Arbitration System

 

The Chinese mainland is seeking to collaborate with partners from outside the region to improve its arbitration system for resolving international business disputes, said a top official of the Supreme People's Court on Tuesday."An arbitration system is more cost-effective and flexible than lawsuits in commercial disputes among the mainland, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan," said Xi Xiaoming, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, at the Fifth Greater China Arbitration Forum Conference on Tuesday."The Supreme People's Court has formulated more than 30 regulations and judicial interpretations for cases across the Taiwan Straits and the special administrative zones to facilitate the economic exchange," he said.In Qianhai, Shenzhen's rising economic zone, policies have been put in place to allow lawyers from Hong Kong, Macao and overseas to act as representatives in arbitration cases.The Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce has maintained continuous collaboration on arbitration research with Tsinghua University in Beijing, said Johan Gernandt, ex-president of the SCC Arbitration."Sweden and China basically share similar commercial legal systems," said Gernandt. "The international commercial disputes in Stockholm between companies from all over the world have in past years been resolved successfully, mostly to the advantage of the Chinese companies when they have been involved."

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/16/2013

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Academic Committees to Supervise Scientific Fund Use

 

A draft proposal was published on the Ministry of Education website on Friday to urge the establishment of university academic committees in order to supervise the use of scientific funds.The draft said that universities and colleges should consult the academic committees when they make comprehensive plans, allocate funds for teaching and scientific research, and carry out international cooperative programs.Programs should be suspended if the academic committees object to them.According to the draft, academic committees should be comprised of an odd number of no less than 15 members, including professors, associate professors and senior professionals.The academic committees should execute a tenure system with at least four years per term, the draft said.The public can submit opinions via mail or email to the ministry at fzb@moe.edu.cn.According to the Ministry of Science and Technology, China has seen growing expenditures for scientific research and development, with annual growth of over 20 percent. Spending topped one trillion yuan in 2012, a 17.9-percent year-on-year increase.However, several cases of embezzlement and other misuse of scientific research funds have been uncovered recently.In one recent case, Meng Jiangtao, formerly of the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, was sentenced in July to 10 years in jail for embezzling scientific funds totaling about 2.6 million yuan (425,010 U.S. dollars).

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/18/2013

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JAPAN: To Upgrade Its Cyberdefense Capabilities

 

Civil servants from across Japan recently gathered at Japan's Interior Ministry to receive their first training session on how to defend themselves against a cyber assault. Japan has no central agency tasked with defending the nation in cyberspace, and technicians from Japan's key ministries have been brought in to test their skills. Officials say the threat from hackers is rising and upping Japan's game is increasingly urgent. The country's Cabinet Secretariat, which staffs a small 24/7 cyber surveillance team, says it detected 1,080,000 potential attacks against the government's networks in 2012, for an average of about 3,000 potential attacks daily. That was nearly double the 660,000 incidents logged in 2011. “There has been a spike in the number of targeted cyber attacks on the Japanese government, so increasing our ability to deal with them is a matter of urgency,” said Satoshi Murakami, an analyst at the Interior Ministry. Now Japan's defense ministry is adding cyberspace to the realm of national defense, joining sea, air and land. The ministry is seeking a budget increase to reorganize its loosely-spread technicians into a centralized force of 100 cyber analysts.
 
However, so far it only monitors its own internal network, which safeguards secrets from ballistic missile defense to joint technology development with the U.S., and officials say it's struggling to handle even that. “If you ask me what I need, I'd say I don't have enough people, equipment or money to do the job. Every year cyber threats are getting more and more complicated, and attacks like viruses have become increasingly difficult to detect,” said Kazunori Kimura, head of cyber planning at Japan's defense ministry.   “Cyber attacks are getting more and more sophisticated, and sometimes we cannot defend against them using the systems we currently have in place,” he added. Experts say malicious software that infiltrates computer networks and leaves behind spy programs has been successfully used in recent years against Japan's space agency, national lawmakers and its finance and agriculture ministries. A source close to the defense ministry's cyber program says the ministry is attacked on a daily basis.
 
But, as yet, Japan has little idea where the hacking is coming from. Analysts are prevented from following or countering hackers by laws that prevent retaliation and the production of viruses. That stops investigators from penetrating beyond computer systems that may have been “hijacked” by hackers to disguise their real location. “We've all got our hands tied by legislation here in Japan - we can't even investigate who is doing the hacking. So even if the Defense Ministry was hit by a cyber attack, they could do no more than a private sector company. That is to say, they can only sit there and watch the attack. There's just no way they can find out who did it, what their methods are, or what country or organization they're from,” said Itsuro Nishimoto, head of technology at LAC, a security company that advises many Japanese government departments. “They have a clear idea of what defines a physical attack, they know how to respond if Japan's attacked with something like a missile. But in cyberspace they've got no idea what to do. They don't know if some cyber attacks could have a military purpose, or how Japan could respond to them if so. It's not even being discussed,” he said. The defense ministry says it is “studying” how it can respond to cyber assaults.

From http://www.voanews.com/ 09/30/2013

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SOUTH KOREA: To Build Healthcare Information Systems in Saudi Arabia

 

South Korea will build healthcare information systems in Saudi Arabia and train doctors from the kingdom, officials said Monday, a lucrative deal that could help boost medical cooperation with other Middle East countries. The deal signed between Health Minister Jin Young and his Saudi Arabian counterpart on Sunday in Riyadh calls for South Korea to set up a Hospital Information System (HIS) in hospitals and public health clinics across the oil-rich country, the health ministry officials said.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/ 09/23/2013

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S. Korean Scientists Develop New, Advanced Material for Carbon Capture

 

A group of South Korean scientists has developed a new and much more advanced material that can capture carbon dioxide, and at a significantly lower price, the science ministry said Friday. Using nano particles, the team from Seoul's Hanyang University has developed a new membrane that can specifically capture only carbon dioxide or other molecules of different sizes if necessary, according to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 10/04/2013

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Creative Economy, 'Paradigm for Innovation': President

 

President Park Geun-hye stressed that a creative economy is key to developing the innovation required for sustainable world economic growth, on October 6 at the APEC CEO Summit in Bali, Indonesia. Delivering her keynote speech, “The Business of Innovation: Why Does It Matter?” to business leaders from across APEC, President Park said that she firmly believes that the vision of a creative economy is key to the innovative paradigm that can help not only Korea but all countries around the globe achieve growth through mutual opening and cooperation. To realize an administration’s creative economy goals, she said we need to overcome the barriers of regulation, the barriers of finance, the barriers of education and the barriers of international borders. Concerning the first barrier, she went on to explain her administration’s efforts to lift regulations that hinder the combining of, and creation of, industries. Korea is in the process of moving toward a so-called “negative regulatory system” wherein all activities or business are, in principle, allowed and only specific activities or businesses are banned. This is the second time President Park spoke at a global, multilateral gathering about the importance of developing a creative economy; the first was at the G20 Summit in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in September 2013. 

From http://www.korea.net/ 10/07/2013

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Seoul Conference Discusses Future of Development After 2015

 

At the recent 7th Seoul Official Development Assistance (ODA) International Conference, there was lively discussion about the future of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and what will happen when they expire. The MDGs, set by the UN to eradicate poverty across the globe, expire in 2015 and the future of development goals was the main topic of discussion on October 8. Following the keynote speeches, there were three sessions of panel discussions on ODA and Development Finance, Inclusive and Sustainable Development and Constructing an Environment for Sustainable Development. Attendees included world-class scholars and practitioners, with a diverse range of experience and expertise. “The MDGs have been the most successful and most widely supported international development standard in the world,” said Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) President Kim Young-mok in the opening speech. “Due to such cooperation in international development, the number of people living in absolute poverty has decreased and access to primary education has improved.” “People want to see the themes covered by the MDGs continue in the post-2015 period,” said Rebeca Grynspan, UN Under Secretary General and UNDP Associate Administrator. “Education, health and the eradication of poverty continue to be people’s highest priorities. Coming up onto the agenda over recent years, we’ve seen that people not only want access, but want access to quality health care and education.” To this end, she said, “Member states have declared that they will work toward a single framework and set of goals, universal in nature and applicable in all countries, while taking into account differing national circumstances and respecting national policies and priorities.”

 

“Peace and security, democratic governance, the rule of law, gender equality and human rights for all are key issues for the future agenda,” she added. Grynspan also said that although the details of the 2015 agenda are yet to be determined, the ODA will certainly continue to play a critical role, particularly in low-income countries and fragile states where revenue-mobilization is challenging. British Ambassador to Korea Scott Wightman also said recent changes to the financial landscape in which the ODA operates do not decrease the importance of the ODA and it will remain vital for providing support to the very poorest countries and to those without the means of raising international finance elsewhere. Speaking of the 2011 Busan Declaration, which shifted toward development effectiveness, Wightman said, “The international development agenda was placing more emphasis on growth and accountability, and the cooperation required to promote growth was about much more than just aid.” Speaking of the “five transformative shifts” used to guide the shape of the new agenda and put forward by a panel appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, he said we should leave no one behind as we finish the job started with the MDGs and end extreme poverty.

From http://www.korea.net 10/11/2013

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Defense Ministry Probes Cyber Command's Alleged Online Smear Campaign

 

South Korea's defense ministry said Tuesday it has launched an investigation into allegations that its Cyber Warfare Command posted online messages in favor of the ruling camp during last year's presidential campaign, shedding light on the secretive unit. The ministry established the 400-member special unit under its wing in 2010 to expand its warfare capability on cyber space and counter threats from North Korea, which is believed to have trained professional hackers and attacked the South Korean government's and companies' websites.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 10/15/2013

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First Korea-Latin America IT Forum Held in Seoul

 

Representatives from Latin America and the Caribbean arrived in Seoul for the first Ministerial Forum for Broadband Development in Latin America and the Caribbean on October 15. Over 70 ministers and vice-ministers from 11 countries took part in the forum, as well as representatives and experts from information and communications technology (ICT) firms. Korea shared with the participants its ICT development policies and there were discussions on how the two sides could cooperate to expand broadband service in Latin America. In recent years, Korea and Latin America have maintained a very cooperative partnership. In addition to Korea’s training programs, offered to Latin America in the hopes of developing ICT experts, Korea has provided policy consultants to help with broadband, information security, radio wave control and other aspects of ICT. During the forum, the two sides agreed that broadband can play a critical role in promoting social integration and improving productivity. Participants agreed to launch an ICT Education Center early next year to train public officials from Latin America. At the forum’s close, the government representatives released the Seoul Declaration, agreeing to hold the ministerial forum once every two years. 

Government representatives from Latin America and the Caribbean (hereinafter LAC region), and the government of the Republic of Korea who have gathered on October 15, 2013 in Seoul hereby: 1. Agree that telecommunications in general and broadband in particular are a strategic sector for the promotion of social integration, economic growth, and improved productivity. According to the research conducted by IDB for the LAC region, the countries that have expanded the broadband service by 10% have witnessed an increase of their GDP and productivity by 3.19% and 2.61% respectively. 2. Point out that investing in infrastructure, developing stable and predictable regulatory frameworks that promote investment and effective and sustainable competition, and developing public policies that accompany national broadband plans are fundamental tools for bridging the social and technological divide of the LAC region while promoting South-South trade and integration. 3. Recognize that fostering competition at national, regional and international levels is crucial to achieve the universality and affordability of broadband services.

4. Agree that the present broadband penetration levels at the LAC region entail two challenges. First, there is an urgent need to expand access, backhaul and backbone broadband infrastructure within the next years. Second, there is a need to develop public policies in health, education, security, banking and government that favor, through broadband democratic and affordable usage, an improvement of living standards of LAC region citizens. 5. Agree to continue to pursue social inclusion in national and regional integration projects while continuing to support the ongoing efforts of IDB and the institutions of the Republic of Korea in bridging the social and digital gaps in the LAC region. 6. Acknowledge the need for coordinating regional actions through public policy dialogues that allow sharing lessons learnt and best practices. 7. In light of the previous points declared, agree that there is a need to have regional summits such as the one that is occurring within the framework of the 1st Ministerial Forum for Broadband Development in Latin America and the Caribbean periodically, once every two years. Those summits need to provide an environment where participants can discuss openly and informally key aspects that allow advancement toward broadband universality and affordability.  Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Suriname and The Republic of Korea

From http://www.korea.net 10/18/2013

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MONGOLIA: Easing Restrictions on Foreign Investors

 

Mongolia has passed a law aimed at reviving foreign investment by easing restrictions on investors in key sectors such as mining and by providing greater certainty on the taxes they must pay. The new regulations take effect on Nov 1 and replace two previous laws, including one that imposed restrictions on foreign investments in strategic sectors after state-owned Aluminum Corp of China (Chalco) made a bid to take control of Mongolia-focused coal miner SouthGobi Resources in 2012. Investors and analysts said the new law was a step in the right direction following more than a year of uncertainty over investment rules, which many blamed for a slump of 43 percent in overseas investment in the first half of 2013, on an annual basis.

Economic growth in the sparsely populated and landlocked country is heavily tied to its vast copper and coal resources, and reinvigorating foreign investment has been a top priority for its government. “Without a doubt, it is a very positive development,” said Sam Spring, chief executive of Mongolia explorer Kincora Copper .

 

Under the new law, which had been on the cards for a few months, private companies will no longer need government approval to invest in the so-called strategic areas of mining, telecommunications and banking. Although firms that are at least 50 percent state-owned will still need the go-ahead from a new agency. The law also gives investors five to 22 years of “stability” on value added tax, corporate income tax, mining royalties and customs duties. That means they will pay tax rates that apply when an investment is made for those periods. The new investment law protects investors from expropriation, allows profits to be taken out of the country, and reaffirms the right to arbitration, Sereeter Javkhlanbaatar, head of foreign investment regulation and registration in the economic development ministry told Reuters. While the new investment law marks a step forward, Independent Mongolian Metals & Mining Research analyst Dale Choi said three key issues – the fate of an underground expansion at Rio Tinto’s Oyu Tolgoi copper mine, uncertainty over 106 mining licences, and revisions to a rivers and forests law – still need to be resolved to restore foreign investor confidence. Centerra Gold needs revisions to the rivers and forests law in order to go ahead with its Gatsuurt project, which has been on hold since 2010. Kincora Copper is among an estimated 11 foreign companies and 67 Mongolia groups affected by uncertainty over the status of mining licences.

From http://www.business-mongolia.com 10/05/2013

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INDONESIA: Signing MOU with University to Enhance Geospatial Skill Sets

 

The Geospatial Information Agency (In Bahasa Indonesia: Badan Informasi Geospatial or BIG) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Lambung Mangkurat University (LMU), as part of the Geospatial Information Agency’s ongoing efforts to increase the quality and quantity of human resources specialising in Geospatial Information Systems and Technology in South Kalimantan. South Kalimantan is one of five Indonesian provinces in Kalimantan located in the island of Borneo. Based on the 2010 census, the population of South Kalimantan is just over 3.625 million people. “One of the important things needed to promote geospatial information is to reduce public ignorance about it. As such the MOU between BIG and LMU will seek to promote and explore the potential uses of geospatial information from day-to-day decision making to critical socio-economic development planning,” the agency said. The MOU aims to promote the joint collaboration and sharing of geospatial data and information, promotion of R&D activities in the field of geospatial information, implementation of technical capacity building workshops to improve the competence of human resources, the development of a University Network Node, and the creation of a Spatial Data Infrastructure Development Centre. Furthermore, the MOU also seeks to address shortages in geospatial technical skills. In the long run, the government hopes to increase the domestic supply it needs to achieve a thriving GIS industry and a spatially-enabled Indonesia.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/07/2013

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MYANMAR: Gov't Vows to Cooperate to Prevent Recurrence of Racial, Religious Conflicts

 

Myanmar government has vowed to cooperate fully with five faiths in the country to prevent recurrence of racial and religious conflicts, official media reported Wednesday. In his message to the Conference of Leaders of Five Faiths in Yangon, President U Thein Sein said instability harms and delays the state reform and tarnishes the image of the nation internationally. Citing the fundamental teachings of all faiths that in the face of a problem or a conflict, he said the problem should be settled with truth, loving kindness and tolerance, calling for avoiding extremes. He maintained that the constitution of Myanmar fully guarantees freedom of religion as the fundamental right of citizens, warning not to misuse the noble idea of the freedom of religion as a springboard for any kind of extremism and fueling hatred.

 

He expressed belief that only the all-inclusive democracy can guarantee long-term progress and peace and stability of a country like Myanmar formed with numerous indigenous people of different races, religions and culture. "This diversity must be a united force for our own interest," he said, calling for protecting the country's image as a peacefully coexisting society, while preserving the existing age- old fine tradition of social harmony among the fellow citizens. He advised to make collective efforts to end discrimination and stay away from conflicts. The Academic Conference on Security, Peace and Coexistence, jointly organized by Institute for Global Engagement and Sitagu World Buddhist Academy, took place in Yangon Tuesday with leaders of five main religions calling for efforts to bring about the situation of better coexistence in wake of recent communal conflicts in several parts of the country including Rakhine, Meikhtila and Lashio. There are mainly five faiths in Myanmar, namely Buddhism (89.2 percent), Christianity (5.0 percent), Islam (3.8 percent), Hinduism (0.5 percent), Spiritualism (1.2 percent).

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/02/2013

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MALAYSIA: Launching Geospatial Services Portal

 

The Malaysian Centre for Geospatial Data Infrastructure (MacGDI), an agency under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, announced recently the launch of MyGOS (Malaysia Geospatial Online Service), which serves as a single integrated portal for crucial geospatial services and information. Following its mandate to facilitate an environment whereby government agencies and private organisations can seamlessly access and share geospatial data, MyGOS provides users with an intuitive workspace to work collaboratively. It allows users to create groups and invite others to work together on projects, and to share maps, data, and other content. Furthermore, users can also create public groups so that they can share data outside of their organisation. Information available in the portal include: The 1Malaysia map, Air Pollutant Index and Management System, 2013 General Election, hotspots, Malaysian standard geographic information, MyGeoName, and Road Networks.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/23/2013

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PHILIPPINES: Local Government Units Trained in Disaster Mapping

 

The World Food Programme (WFP) and the Department of Interior and Local Government are embarking on a series of disaster mapping workshops aimed at equipping more than 600 Local Government Units (LGU), located in the country’s 18 major river basins, the necessary tools and skills for disaster response and prevention. According to Juanito Berja Jr., GIS specialist from the WFP, the computerised mapping programme will enable LGUs to identify areas classified as “unfit for dwelling” due to several topographic attributes making it vulnerable to risks such as flooding, landslides, earthquake, liquefaction and many more. The disaster mapping workshop will impart practical knowledge on how the community can prepare and be resilient in times of such natural calamities. Berja said, through this effort, LGUs can focus on programmes on disaster response and prevention which would allow them to save more lives and resources in the event of a disaster. Several LGUs from the province of Negros Oriental, located in Central Visayas region, are also conducting a one-week integrated planning course on Incident Command System, a management tool used during calamities which aims to give concerned stakeholders better situational clarity and awareness that will enable them to efficiently respond to situations.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/01/2013

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Philippine Water Resource Board to Develop E-Records Management System

 

The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) has released last week a tender notice for the development of an electronic records management system in a bid to address challenges posed by paper-based record keeping. NWRB is the lead government agency in the Philippine water sector, conferred with policy-making, regulatory and quasi-judicial functions. It is responsible for ensuring the optimum exploitation, use, development, conservation and protection of the country’s water resource, consistent with the principles of Integrated Water Resource Management. Gilbert Verana, an Information Systems Analyst at NWRB, told FutureGov that when employees need certain documents or records, they simply go to the archives section to retrieve the manila folder where it is filed. Days later, employees would return it either damaged or missing several important pages. The project, which costs about Php 4,000,000 (USD 92,000), will facilitate quick access to the right information, prevent damages to documents caused by constant handling, and ensure seamless and secure access for select authorised personnel. Furthermore, once the system is in place, policy makers can easily access authoritative data and confidently arrive at well-informed decisions needed for the sustainable development of the country’s water resource.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/07/2013

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The Philippines Conducts ICT Policy Consultative Workshop

 

The National ICT Advisory Council (NICTA) and the ICT Office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) recently held an ICT policy consultative workshop to formally organise focus groups on key priority areas such as: Cybersecurity, the National Broadband Plan, Cloud Computing, Data Privacy, Public Finance, ICT procurement, ICT education, and a code of ICT laws. NICTA is an advisory body envisaged to fast track the implementation of the Philippine Digital Strategy, the country’s official ICT roadmap for ICT development. According to NICTAC’s charter, the council shall provide policy advisory as well as advocacy functions for the DOST-ICT office. As such it will act as a springboard on all ICT-policy related matters related to the execution of programmes, projects, and activities lined up in the PDS. The members of the focus groups were made up of stakeholders from the academe, ICT industry associations, non-government organisations, ICT thought leaders and many others. “This is not the first collaboration between government and industry, and this will not be the last. Some of you here were instrumental in the development of the Philippine Digital Strategy which set the framework for what this assembly is about to embark on,” DOST secretary Mario Montejo said in an official statement. Meanwhile, NICTA executive committee chair and ICT Office executive director Louis Casambre said that the results of the focus group will not only be essential for the realisation of the PDS, but will shape the future of the whole ICT industry.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/09/2013

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Philippine Province Institutionalises E-Scorecard Tool for Performance Management

 

The provincial government of Surigao Del Norte, located at the northernmost part of Mindanao island, has institutionalised the use of the Local Government Performance Management System (LGPMS), a web-based e-scorecard tool that is used to determine the level of performance and development of local government units. The LGPMS is managed by the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) Bureau of Local Government Supervision. It is a web-based system that has the ability to produce information on the state of local governance performance, and the state of local development, using governance and development indicators. Mary Jane V. Catulay of DILG Surigao del Norte presented the LGPMS results for CY 2012 which highlighted the province’s performance indicators with excellent results. She also identified several weak points, and gave emphasis on drafting measures to enhance its performance. Based on the report, the province of Surigao del Norte had a slight decrease in performance which Catulay attributed to the changes in administration. The province regained its strength and got an overall performance rating of 4.66 in CY 2011. The performance even ascended more for CY 2012 at 4.71. With LGPMS, the provincial government of Surigao del Norte can continuously monitor its performance in the delivery of services to its constituents and improve efforts in the pursuit of excellence in local governance

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/11/2013

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The Philippines’ Largest Health Charity Rolls Out New Storage Solution

 

Chong Hua Hospital, a 660-bed hospital in The Philippines’ second largest city Cebu, implemented a new storage solution to accommodate the growing volume of rich media patient data. In 2008 the hospital decided to digitise all its patient data records to ensure reliable, consistent clinical information for medical specialists to make fast, informed decisions. The first step was digitising radiology images by deploying a Picture and Archive Communications System (PACS). However, the huge volume of rich media generated by PACS was consuming storage capacity too rapidly and by mid-2011, was causing performance slowdowns in the hospital’s database servers. After evaluating competitive storage solutions from IBM, Dell and Hitachi, Chong Hua Hospital chose an HP Converged Storage solution based on HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage and HP StoreAll Storage to improve patient care by accelerating medical record delivery.

 

By upgrading to the new storage solution, the hospital is able to increase its data center capacity and performance without increasing infrastructure footprint or energy costs. As a result hospital staff have consistent access to patient data records, even as the volume of records escalates. In addition to improving capacity and performance, the solution enables the IT team to be relieved of tedious manual administration through autonomic provisioning and management, minimising future disruption and saving the operating costs of unused disk capacity. The new storage system allows the hospital to buy disk capacity in stages, according to its data needs. This new modular, scale-out environment gives the IT team the ability to expand its data archives without preplanning or downtime. “As a leading provider of healthcare in the Philippines we always put patient safety first. To continue delivering the highest quality of care, we need easy, reliable access to patient records,” said Arthur Jason Go, PACS Administrator, Chong Hua Hospital. “HP’s storage solutions provide the flexibility and performance to allow us to rapidly scale to billions of files without expensive hardware upgrades and maintenance. The new system makes life simpler for staff and ultimately helps us provide quality care to a growing number of patients.”

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/14/2013

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SINGAPORE: Leveraging Open Source Solutions to Drive Business Analytics Development

 

The Business Analytics Translational Centre (BATC), a cross-agency national level initiative by the Agency of Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with leading open source solutions provider Red Hat to help accelerate innovation and drive adoption of business analytics in their upcoming projects. According to an official statement, Red Hat will be collaborating with BATC in areas of big data, middleware, Platform-as-a-service (PaaS), cloud and storage, for the innovation and development of its various initiatives. BATC is a leading player in the strategic technology translation for big data and analytics in Singapore. To date, a number of open source based applications for data analytics have been developed through collaborative initiatives between the A*STAR and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA). An example of which is BATC’s SocialSenseTM which runs on Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®. It incorporates a number of A*STAR intellectual properties in data analytics, semantic information processing, text mining and enables organisations to analyse user-generated data feeds on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. It automatically analyses user feedback and sentiments in real-time which gives organisations an understanding on how the public perceives them and their outreach programmes. “We are cognisant of the advantages open source technology offers to drive the development of rapid prototype applications for business and technical requirements gathering and business use-case validation. Organisational lead users can then rapidly discern the value of Business Analytics and formulate effective strategies for organisational-wide BA transformation,” said Dr Tan Geok Leng, Chairman of BATC Management Committee and Executive Director for the Science & Engineering Research Council (SERC).

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/02/2013

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Singapore Tests Effectiveness of Diabetes Management App

 

The IT arm of the Health Ministry, Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), and Singapore General Hospital (SGH) have developed a mobile app, SGH Diabetes Pal, to assist type 2 diabetes patients determine the amount of insulin they should inject at the appropriate time. The app is now being trialled to test its effectiveness. On a daily basis, many type 2 diabetes patients who are new to insulin therapy are faced with the challenge of not knowing how much insulin to inject at the right time. One of the reasons is the lack of confidence to self-adjust insulin dosage without the doctor’s supervision. Delays in dose adjustment could lead to further diabetic complications. In Singapore, in particularly, there is a need to improve diabetes management as it has amongst the highest diabetes incidence in developed countries, shares Professor David Matchar, Director for Health Services and Systems Research, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School. The SGH Diabetes Pal app serves as a dynamic guide, advising patients based on their real-time condition. The app allows patients to enter their blood sugar level reading every morning, and then prompts the required insulin dosage based on this data and the patients’ prescribed treatment plan.

 

Chief Executive Officer at IHiS, Dr. Chong Yoke Sin, says, “In Singapore, there is high smartphone penetration among the general population, and increasingly among the elderly. IHiS and the public hospitals have developed several clinical mobile apps as part of our efforts to reach out beyond the hospital walls, to care for the elderly with chronic diseases in the community.” SGH and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School are conducting a study to determine if this app can help patients achieve good glycaemic control. The 24-week study is the first such clinical trial involving a mobile app in a hospital setting. The randomised controlled trial will be conducted with two groups of 40 patients receiving insulin treatment, but only one of the groups will have access to the SGH Diabetes Pal app. At the end of the study, the change in glycaemic control between the two groups will be compared. Dr. Bee Yong Mong, Director of Diabetes Centre, Department of Endocrinology, SGH, states, “As part of the Academic Healthcare Cluster, we are always looking at innovative ways to improve patient empowerment and clinical outcomes. The SGH Diabetes Pal is an example of how we leverage on technology to achieve that goal.” “This study will guide us on how to further employ mobile technologies to transform healthcare where there is partnership between the patient and doctor in managing the patient’s health,” adds Dr. Chong.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/03/2013

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Singapore Hospital Achieves Global Benchmark for Advanced Healthit

 

Changi General Hospital (CGH) has achieved Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM) stage six, an international benchmark for the use of advanced IT to improve patient care. EMRAM is a global standard that measures the use of technology to transform healthcare to improve patient safety, care quality and efficiency. Stage six, on a scale of zero to seven, indicates significant IT capabilities. The achievement ranks CGH and Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS) among hospitals with the most advanced clinical technologies worldwide. IHiS, the Health Ministry’s IT arm, manages IT systems at all public healthcare institutions, and was pivotal to CGH’s achieving the benchmark. As of the third quarter of this year, only 2.5 per cent of 613 hospitals in Asia Pacific tracked by HIMSS have stage six or seven capabilities. Across US, Canada, Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific, just 8.5 per cent of over 8,300 hospitals have achieved these benchmarks. Singapore continues to have the highest number of public hospitals with stage 6 in Asia Pacific

 

In 2011, Singapore’s KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, National University Hospital, Singapore General Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital became the first public hospitals in Asia Pacific to achieve the benchmark. CGH Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lee Chien Earn, said: “IT is an essential component of healthcare, enabling simple administrative tasks to complex medical procedures. This award is a testament to the hard work and creativity of our staff and partners to come up with innovative processes and solutions to derive the optimal benefit in terms of care outcomes, productivity and staff satisfaction from our investment in IT.” He added: “In CGH our aim is to transform the way we work and enhance the human touch by enabling healthcare professionals and providers to deliver safer, better and more personalised care through the wise use of IT.” IHiS Chief Executive Officer, Dr Chong Yoke Sin, said: “In working towards Stage 6, CGH and IHiS staff also explored creative solutions to significantly improve clinical efficiencies. For example, CGH is one of the region’s first to deploy QR code technology instead of barcodes in its medication management process. This allows more information to be stored and scanned in labels, and thus more checks to ensure patient safety.”

 

QR codes can hold several hundred times the information in conventional barcodes vertically and horizontally. They can also be scanned more quickly and be printed on narrow surfaces. Dr Chong added: “The HIMSS global benchmark highlights our hospitals’ focused efforts to harness IT to overcome Singapore’s healthcare challenges. IT is being used to transform clinical processes and maximise staff productivity to provide quality and affordable care to our increasing numbers of elderly ill.” “Today, IHiS has integrated IT systems at all public hospitals, specialty centres and polyclinics. Doctors and healthcare staff directly enter electronic orders into computers, access instantly patients’ medical records across institutions, and view radiology images and lab test results immediately when they are known. “We are also expanding the advanced IT environment beyond the hospital walls to provide tele-health solutions at community facilities, nursing homes, and patients’ homes. These include doctor tele-consultations, and healthcare staff monitoring and guiding patients through remote monitoring devices, tele-care hubs and mobile applications.”

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/21/2013

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THAILAND: Police Monitors Threats Through Instant Messaging App

 

With the intention to monitor and prevent crime, Thai Royal Police has requested for access to chat records of users from LINE, an instant communication application for free calls and messages. According to Police Major-General Pisit Paoin (pictured), Chief of the Technology Crime Suppression Division, who spoke to media last month, the police will be screening for anti-monarchy advocates, or perpetrators and suspects of crimes such as arms trading, prostitution and drug dealing. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra commented that the government does not intend to limit people’s freedom, and any monitoring will target individuals rather than the general public. Paoin clarified that the agency is only interested in threats to national security: “We are monitoring only those who break the law. If you’re using Line and social media to break the law, then you see us, the police”. LINE, launched in June 2011, has 230 million registered users as of last month, with 18 million in Thailand. According to local media The Nation, LINE declined to have received any official request from the Thai Royal Police. On the other hand, Paoin said that police have already contacted the company, and will follow up with the request. A week before, Paoin’s division opened an investigation into four people for allegedly posting rumours on Facebook of a possible military coup and threatened to charge any users who ‘liked’ the postings. The Police has since discouraged users to ‘like’ such posts because it could perpetuate false statements.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/23/2013

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3D Technology to Tackle Singapore's Urban Planning Challenges

 

Eric Wittner, a lead software engineer at global geospatial giant Esri, will advise hundreds of IT professionals on how they can use cutting-edge 3D technology to overcome the city’s urban development challenges – at the Esri Asia Pacific User Conference (APUC) next month. The technology, known as CityEngine, draws on Geographic Information System (GIS) and 3D software to enable urban planners to visualise how cities will look in future. Mr Wittner said CityEngine was revolutionising the way cities were being planned and operated right across the world. “This new generation of smart 3D GIS technology enables us to represent, design, build and develop with clarity and understanding,” Mr Wittner said. “Urban planners essentially use the technology to generate digital cities that actually exist, or will be developed – effectively giving them a glimpse into the future. “The technology transforms 2D town planning data into interactive 3D city models that can help solve problems, such as accommodating an increase in demand for new housing.

 

“CityEngine has a range of advanced features that has already made it a powerful tool in the transformation of major cities in China, the U.S. and Europe. “For example, the city models created have been used to assess heat island effects of yet unbuilt developments, as well as visualise their impact on the existing skyline from multiple points of view. “The good news is cities across the Asia Pacific are amongst the most advanced in the world when it comes to using GIS technology for planning, and many – including Singapore – are already starting to use this technology to underpin their sustainable development initiatives.” Mr Wittner said a key advantage of the technology – which is also widely used in architecture, simulation, game development and film production – is it gives urban designers the tools to construct ‘what-if’ scenarios. “As population rates boom, planners are being forced to make cities denser and incorporate more mass transit system capabilities,” Mr Wittner said. “Smart 3D solutions such as CityEngine can produce a ‘real life’ visualisation of how a city would look before and after urban developments, such as light rail infrastructure or higher residential buildings, to show the impacts on a range of areas including carbon footprints and water usage.

 

“Multiple scenarios can be played out to see what would happen if certain development paths were taken or not taken – which helps to refine decision-making and choose the most successful path forward. “This approach also helps improve community and stakeholder engagement – as the results can be shown before development takes place, to gauge response and feedback.” APUC 2013 Technical Director Kellie Persson said as one of the world’s leading financial centres – and fastest growing cities – Singapore was the ideal location for Mr Wittner to reveal all that’s possible with the new technology platform. “With a population of five million and a limited land area of 710 square kilometres, Singapore faces unique challenges in its urban design,” Ms Persson said. “Given its small size, careful planning is critical for the economic growth and the development of the country in years to come. “The new generation of 3D GIS technology means, for the first time, we can do more than just speculate on the alternate future of Singapore – we can now accurately depict, visualise, and assess its outlook to find the best possible design.” Hosted by Esri Singapore, APUC 2013 will run from November 12-14 at the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/22/2013

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VIETNAM: Urged to Develop Waste Treatment Plants

 

Viet Nam's growing industries produce increasing amounts of waste while only around 5 per cent of waste water is treated, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. It also reports that barely 14 per cent of hazardous waste and 15 per cent of solid waste were disposed of properly, and that only 105 of the country's 283 industrial zones have centralized waste water treatment systems. Duong Dinh Giam, president of the ministry's Industrial Policy and Strategy Institute, said that even those frequently operate ineffectively, producing substandard "treated" waste water. At a workshop last Friday in Ha Noi, Giam conveyed the stark message that the environmental industry had not kept pace with the country's rapid economic growth. "Waste is the biggest environmental problem but it is also valuable resources for developing countries," he said. Giam said that Viet Nam badly needed to develop an industry to treat and recycle waste water and solid waste as well as electronic waste, which the nation has never recycled.

 

However, he warned that this would be a challenge for the "scattered" national environmental industry. Duong Thi Thanh Xuyen from the Viet Nam Environment Administration said the quality of environmental services was "poor" because companies providing environmental services were licenced without careful verification of their workforce, equipment, technology or capital. Additionally, there were no State-owned enterprises big enough to address major environmental problems, such as oil slicks or treating hazardous waste on a regional level. Nguyen Van Thanh, deputy head of the trade ministry's Industrial Safety Techniques and Environment Agency, said that there were not enough skilled workers to develop the environmental industry. The environment ministry's Viet Nam Environment Administration reported that not a single household solid waste treatment plant met standards of technology, socio-economic and environment. Giam blamed the situation on budget shortages. State budget spending for environmental protection is limited; environmental services are considered public services, he said, so the Government has to subsidise most fees for treating industrial and household waste. The lack of encouraging policies and advanced technologies compounded the problem, he added.

 

He recommended changing regulations on importing iron, steel and electronic products to help develop the electronic waste recycling sector. Policy changes are also afoot. By 2020, residents will pay about 20 per cent of fees for treating household waste, Giam said. Today they pay nothing. "The new rule aims to involve communities in paying to treat waste," he said. Thanh from the Industrial Safety Techniques and Environment Agency said the ministry of industry and trade had recently proposed a decree to develop the national environmental industry to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. The ministry planned to create policies to tighten State management of the environmental industry and identify economic sectors that could receive preferential treatment from participating in the environmental industry, Thanh said. Xuyen of the environmental administration said it would be a good idea to create favourable conditions for cement factories to participate in processing hazardous waste. Additionally, the Government should help oil exploiting and processing companies equip themselves to deal with oil slicks.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 10/21/2013

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SRI LANKA: First Nanotechnology Research Center and Nanoscience Park to Be Opened on 21st

 

Sri Lanka 's first Nanotechnology research center and Nanoscience park will be declared open by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on October 21. Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTEC) together with the Ministry of Technology and Research laid the foundation in June 2012 for the commencement of construction of the park which is named as Nanotechnology Centre of Excellence (NCE).  Sri Lanka's first nanotechnology park is set up in a 50 acre land in Pitipana, Homagama in Colombo district. The park is established with the government and private sector participation. The Nanotechnology Park aims to create opportunities for all businesses to develop new products through a collaborative innovation process, taking them from research through development toward commercialization. The foundation for this framework is the Nanotechnology Centre of Excellence (NCE), which marks the first phase of the development of the Park. The Ministry of Technology and Research of Sri Lanka made initiatives to launch the nanoscience project together with industrial sector in early 2008. The Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (Pvt) Ltd. was established in April 2008 as a private Company under the Companies Act. It has been engaged in developing applications for nanotechnology through research and development since August 2009 with private sector partners.

From http://www.priu.gov.lk 10/20/2013

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Sri Lanka's First Common ATM to Be Expanded

 

Sri Lanka's first Common Automated Teller Machine Switch connecting Bank of Ceylon and People's Bank ATM networks is to be expanded with the participation of more banks. Lanka Clear (Pvt) Ltd. which provides payment structure says that more banks will join the service soon. The Common ATM Switch commenced on July 23 this year with the participation of Bank of Ceylon and People's Bank linking over 900 ATMs of those two banks. At the launch of Lanka Pay, the Governor of Sri Lanka's Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal urged all Sri Lankan banks to join the common system in order to promote improved common access to financial systems for Sri Lankans island-wide. According to the Central Bank, the Common ATM Switch provides a mechanism to utilize the domestic ATM network more efficiently and effectively to reduce transaction costs in the financial system and to contain out flow of foreign exchange involved in the domestic ATM transactions under the existing arrangements. Sri Lanka has 3,000 some ATMs island wide. However, only Bank of Ceylon, People's Bank and Union Bank have joined the Lanka Pay now. There are agreements between the banks and customers can access their accounts through other networks but for a substantial charge.

From http://www.priu.gov.lk 10/23/2013

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MALDIVES: Security Forces Ramps Up TV Stations Security

 

Police and military personnel have been deployed around private stations, DhiTV and VTV along with the state-run TVM. Military spokesperson Colonel Abdu Raheem said following the arson attack on Raajje TV, security measures have been beefed up in high security areas in Male. Officials of Raajje TV had said all broadcast and transmission equipment along with computer systems had been fully burnt and destroyed. Station owner Akram Kamaludeen estimated the damage to be over US$1 million. But he insisted that the station was trying to set up at another location and would be on air soon. Eyewitness reports indicate that a group of six people had attacked and injured the security guard of the building with a sharp object before entering the building to set the fire.

From http://www.haveeru.com.mv 10/07/2013

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NEPAL: Govt Has Made Tight Security Arrangements to Ensure Free, Fair Polls Home Minister

 

Minister for Home Affairs Madhav Prasad Ghimire has said the government has made tight security arrangements to hold the upcoming Constituent Assembly (CA) elections in a free, fair and impartial atmosphere. Opening a regional seminar on security in Biratnagar on Thursday, Home Minister Ghimire said the government would not let those attempting to foil the election and create obstructions to the election process walk free. “The government is ready to face any shorts of challenges to ensure a peaceful election,” he said, adding that a reliable ground has been created for fair election. Nepali people and the political parties are in favour of the election, he said and urged the parties which have decided not to participate in the election, not to carry out any activities that disturb the election process. He urged the 33 dissenting parties to use their adult franchise and help institutionalise democracy. "People's supremacy will be established through the election," he added. The Home Minister called for supportive role from the media people to make the election successful. Election Commissioner Dr. Ayodhi Prasad Yadav said the Election Commission is ready to defend any sorts of obstructions to conduct free, fair and impartial elections. All the chief district officers from all 16 districts in the eastern region, chiefs of Armed Police Force, Nepal Police and National Investigation Department and Nepal Army representatives attended the day-long seminar.

From http://www.nepalnews.com 10/17/2013

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AZERBAIJAN: To Introduce IMEI Code Check over SMS

 

The Azerbaijan ICT Ministry plans to introduce the opportunity to check the IMEI code of a mobile handsets by sending a SMS to a premium telephone number, reports Trend. The service is planned to launch mid-October. Testing of the service is currently being carried out. Over 13 million handsets have been registered in the IMEI database in Azerbaijan.

From http://www.telecompaper.com/ 09/30/2013

 

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KAZAKHSTAN: Will Introduce Innovations in "A" Corps Candidate Recruiting

 

Kazakhstan will introduce innovations to recruit candidates to the "A" Corps (an elite group of officials), head of the department, Alihan Baimenov said after a meeting of the Kazakh President with 'A' Corps officials. "We will develop candidate evaluating methods on a competency-based approach," he said. "Afterwards, together with our international partners, we want to introduce tests that determine the competence of candidates. Such work will be carried out. It is in our plans. Today, the President has focused on the fact that we must constantly improve our methods of selection, to be convinced that the most worthy candidates are chosen." According to him, in general, the recruitment has created public confidence, especially in the final stages of testing. "There was an interest," he said. "There was certain skepticism in the first stages. When the positions were renewed by 33 percent, public confidence was high. One must understand that we have carried out selections, without additional budget funds and without developing new evaluation mechanisms requiring huge costs as there was little time."

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/17/2013

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TAJIKISTAN: Development of Transport and Communication System Vitally Important

 

The resolution on transport and communication isolation is vitally important for Tajikistan, CA-News quotes the country's Deputy Foreign Minister Nizomiddin Zohidov as saying on Friday. He stressed that the country has no access to the sea. The creation of reliable and safe transport corridors, delivering low expenses during transportation, will contribute not only to the social economic development of Tajikistan, but the whole region, Zohidov said. In his speech, he also discussed the situation in the country, its development, investment potential, legislation base and achievements during the past years.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/04/2013

 

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TURKMENISTAN: Commencing Establishment of National Standard Base

 

Turkmenistan has commenced the establishment of the country's national standard base, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said, Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper reported. The President of Turkmenistan attended the opening ceremony of the State Standard Centre (SSC) - a major object of the national standardization system, built by order of Turkmenstandartlary state service, the publication said. "The construction and equipment of the State Standard Centre has become an important phase in creation of Turkmenistan's standard base," the newspaper quoted Berdimuhamedov as saying. Turkmen President said that the creation of a national standard base is important for the integration into the global system of metrology and standardization. "Currently, none of the sectors of the economy can work clearly and efficiently, not using its own dimensional units system. Because, various technological works are being carried out, as well as the products are also being controlled, with the help of these standards," Turkmen President said. It is expected that the activities of the SSC will provide a single system of measurement used in all sectors of the national economy, to raise the level of testing of the quality and safety of goods and services up to international standards. Sectors such as fuel and energy complex, oil industry, textile and food industries, telecommunications and communications will be focused on. Turkmenstandartlary has been a member of the International Organization for Standardization ISO since 1993. It has been participating in the Interstate Council for Standardization, Metrology and Certification since 1992. Turkmenistan has been introducing the internationally recognized ISO-9000 standards. The certificates corresponding to this quality system have been obtained by enterprises of significant export-oriented textile, chemical, oil processing industries. Moreover, Turkmenstandartlary acts as an independent expert service to assess the service quality of agricultural products, especially grain and cotton. Improvement of the protection of labor and mineral resources, legal and regulatory bases of standardization, strengthening international cooperation with a purpose of removing trade barriers for products manufactured in the country, are being carried out.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/05/2013

 

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UZBEKISTAN: Taking Measures to Support Domestic Programmers

 

Uzbek software developers that are included in the National Registry, are exempt from all taxes and mandatory contributions, as well as customs duties (excluding customs clearance) for imported equipment for their own use, technical documentation, software that is not manufactured in Uzbekistan, until 2017, a decree of the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov 'On measures for the further strengthening of domestic software developers' read. The decree states that funds released as a result of tax benefits should be aimed at developing and strengthening the material-technical base, stimulating employees of legal entities - software developers. The validity period of tax benefits is extended by two years, provided that the volume of exports of one's own software is at least 50 percent of the total of goods sold (works, services). An order will be set, and according to it, the legal entities - software developers, included into the National Registry, are eligible to export activities and services related to the production and maintenance of software, at foreign currency through online stores on the Internet without an export contract. According to the document, the National Registry of software developers will be based on the national directory of developers and software, placed on software.uz. "Legal entities whose income from the development, deployment and implementation of proprietary software is not less than 50 percent of the total volume of their sold goods (works, services) are included in the National Register on a voluntary and free of charge base," the document said. The creation of a single electronic bank of information on domestic software developers and the development of a database of national software products is also provided. Encouraging of the development of competitive domestic and international markets of domestic software products, defining the priority directions of their development, taking into account the real needs of industries and the economy sectors is also envisaged. The functions of formation, maintenance and further development of the National Register of software developers are assigned to the State Committee for Communication, Informatization and Telecommunication Technologies of Uzbekistan.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/23/2013

 

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Uzbekistan Mandates Hiring Preferences

 

Under a new law adopted October 8, employers in Uzbekistan could be fined for refusing to hire certain types of job applicants referred to them by state employment agencies, Norma.uz reported October 11. The law mandates hiring preferences for several categories of job-seekers, including vocational high school graduates and university graduates who went to school on government scholarships, according to Norma.uz. Others covered by the law include former convicts and individuals who have received court-ordered therapy, Podrobno.uz reported.

From http://centralasiaonline.com/ 10/11/2013

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Uzbekistan Increases Fines for Several Administrative Offenses

 

The amendments to the Administrative Responsibility Code have come into force in Uzbekistan. They envisage an increase of existing and the introduction of new penalties for a number of administrative offenses. In particular, the maximum amount of the fine for repeated infringement of accounting rules by individuals working in business entities resulting in tax amount underestimation and for a failure to submit tax reports, will be increased from a minimum wage amount of 15 to 20. The penalty for failure to submit on deadline, discrepancies revealed during the cameral control or revised tax reporting increased from a minimum wage amount of 5 to 10. The amount of the fine in respect of the individuals working in the organisations and enterprises for trading without a licence and permits was increased to a minimum wage amount of 20. Officials who violated the requirements while holding design, construction and installation operations, technical regulations while manufacturing building materials, failure to fulfil the requirements of public architecture and construction supervision bodies, will be fined to the amount of a minimum wage amount of 3 to 5 and in the case of repeated violation - a minimum wage amount of 5 to 10.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/15/2013

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Trans-Pacific Partnership: Giant Free-Trade Deal to Link Asia-Pacific

 

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a free-trade agreement being negotiated by 12 nations, and if endorsed will be the largest trade deal in the world. The TPP would bring together the economies of the US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Chile, Canada, Mexico and Peru - accounting for about a third of global economic output. Currently, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the US, Canada and Mexico is the world's largest free-trade area, producing $US17 trillion worth of goods and services. In comparison, the economic output of the TPP is estimated to be worth about $US28 trillion. The Australian Government says it will pursue a TPP outcome that "eliminates or at least substantially reduces barriers to trade and investment".The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) says the pact will also deal with "behind-the-border impediments" to trade and investment. The TPP could boost Australia's trade by "delivering new market access for producers and businesses", especially with countries Australia does not have an existing free-trade agreement, DFAT adds.

 

China not invited to join pact

The Americans, who have spearheaded the TPP negotiations, insist it would create "gold standards" to deal with 21st-century economic issues such as intellectual property. But some analysts have cautioned the agreement has the potential to alienate China. Beijing initially expressed strong opposition to the TPP, viewing it as another US containment tool, although it has recently adopted a slightly more accepting tone. Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, China's president Xi Jinping said there was enough space in the Asia-Pacific region for every nation to grow. "China cannot develop in isolation of the Asia-Pacific and the Asia-Pacific cannot prosper without China," Mr Xi told APEC business leaders meeting in Bali. "China will firmly uphold regional peace and stability. Without peace, development is out of the question, like water without a source or a tree without roots." Meanwhile, China is pursuing a rival free-trade deal involving 16 Asia-Pacific nations.

 

'We've made significant progress'

TPP talks began three years ago and president Barack Obama has said he wants a deal by the end of the year. US trade representative Michael Froman sounded upbeat following talks with counterparts during the APEC summit. "The TPP countries are strongly committed to working to conclude negotiations this year," Mr Froman told reporters. The US official said negotiators had tackled some sensitive issues, such as weakening the influence of state-owned enterprises, intellectual property and environment regulations. "We've made significant progress this week and we look forward to briefing the TPP leaders about that progress and getting their political level guidance to facilitate the conclusion of negotiations," Mr Froman added. Prime Minister Tony Abbott also appeared optimistic an agreement over the TPP could be finalised soon. "Inevitably there are issues, there are always are. There's always horse-trading in these negotiations. But in the end, if you can come to a deal, everyone is better off," he said. "Our objective is ever freer, ever more liberal trade, not just in goods but in services as well."

 

Concerns over the TPP

Campaigners for government transparency and civil liberties in Australia have expressed concern about the TPP and its provisions on intellectual property and the reach of US laws. Pirate Party Australia says it is critical about the lack of transparency in the TPP negotiations and the content of the proposed deal. "The only time that the Australian public will be able to comment on the text is when it is finished and signed," said the party's president, Simon Frew, in a statement. "There is no opportunity to critique and to provide input, or to even see what is being planned. We are talking about potentially major changes to Australian laws and the public is being shut out. "Pirate Party Australia has attended and presented at numerous 'consultations' and negotiating rounds, where representatives from DFAT have given half-answers and limited indications of what changes will actually be required by the agreement." DFAT says it is "normal practice" in international negotiations to keep documents confidential.

 

"Even if it were possible to release negotiating texts, these texts would be potentially misleading. The obligations under discussion evolve as negotiation rounds progress," a statement on the website explains. Initial claims are amended gradually over the course of many negotiating rounds until all parties reach their final positions, delivering text that all parties can agree. The difference between early works-in-progress texts and the final text can be vast. The text has no status until all parties have agreed to it." Elsewhere, major American multinationals such as Wal-Mart and FedEx have expressed concern about the deal's tight deadline, which could make US negotiators vulnerable to compromise. "For Wal-Mart, we would like to see a high-quality agreement, which is that no sectors and no products are excluded," said Scott Price, chief executive of the US retailer in Asia. That there are no compromises that leak into the process for the purpose of speed. If it takes more time in order to have a high-quality agreement, that's what we should have."

From http://www.radioaustralia.net.au 10/08/2013

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Pacific Women Demand Immediate Action

 

The vice-chair of the Pacific Youth Council, Inagaro Vakaafi from Niue, was elected by 25 young women leaders, from 14 Pacific Nations, to represent their voices at the Opening of the 12th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women, held in Rarotonga, Cook Islands on Sunday October 20th. The 12th Triennial will see Ministers for Women, senior government officials, civil society representatives and other delegates come together to discuss a range of issues affecting women in the Pacific, including gender based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, employment and empowerment, eliminating discrimination and ensuring full participation in decision making. In her opening address, titled ‘The Future We Want’, Vakaafi shared her gratitude in being selected and the enormous responsibility that comes with representing such a diverse range of young women in the Pacific. ‘It is with great privilege and humility that I address you this evening representing young women from 14 Pacific Island countries that have been a part of the Young Women’s Forum,’ she says.

 

‘We represent young women, including people with diverse gender identities, sexual orientations, ethnicities and economic status, sex workers, survivors of violence and abuse, young women with disabilities, those living in remote and rural areas, and others. What we have realised in that despite these difference, we find commonalities in our issues, challenges, obstacles that we face. As young women we have the potential to lead development change in our region. ‘Ms Vakaafi further goes to explain that the time has passed where issues are simply talked about, but rather is calling for immediate action. No real meaningful democracy or sustainable development can occur without involving young women. Talk is easy, to take action is the challenge, and if we don’t take action, who will? We, as young women, are committed to taking action. We call in our different States and Territories to have the political will, to honour existing commitments and to include our issues on the national, regional and global agendas and allocate adequate and immediate funding and resources to address our recommendations.’ The Pacific Youth Council is a member of the Pacific Young Women’s Leadership Alliance and has an active interest in addresses the issues facing gender inequality in the Pacific region.

From PACIFIC YOUTH COUNCIL 10/23/2013

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AUSTRALIA: University Rolls Out New Learning Management System

 

Charles Sturt University (CSU), a leading distance education provider in Australia with over 29,000 students taking online classes, has chosen to replace its current learning management system (LMS) with Blackboard Learn following a review of several platforms. CSU will also leverage data from the LMS to make decisions on how to better design courses, deliver course materials and engage with students. The university officials decided to review available LMS options as part of its ongoing commitment to deliver the best possible online learning experience and accommodate for future growth. A committee of faculty and educational designers piloted and evaluated several commercial and open-source platforms based on 12 factors. The committee found Blackboard Learn to be far superior in the most highly valued factors: pedagogy, breadth of features, integrations and usability, and the best choice to help the university grow its online programme. “With such a large contingent of our students learning online, either through fully online courses or in hybrid classes, the LMS we use—and the data we can extract from it—is mission-critical to our success,” said Associate Professor Philip Uys (pictured), Director of Strategic Learning and Teaching Innovation at CSU. “We’re excited to partner with a global leader to take our digital learning initiatives to the next level, creating a world-class experience for all our students, whether they are on or off campus.”

 

CSU has also selected Blackboard to upgrade the university’s mobile learning and student life apps and create more familiarity and connectivity with the university for students, many of whom live off campus. All functionalities of the LMS, including course content, discussion boards, blogs, wikis, and more, will be accessible via mobile devices. University leaders can also create custom campus life apps with features like virtual campus tours, news updates, and directories. “It’s not always easy to build a connection between students and the university, and that’s especially true with students who take some or all of their classes online,” continued Uys. “A high-quality campus app will allow our busy students to engage with our community and deepen their relationship with the university wherever they are. In Australia and around the world, technology is shifting the education landscape,” said Matthew Small, President, International, at Blackboard. There is now an entirely new construct to what schools need to do in order to stay relevant and support their students. We are excited to partner with schools like CSU that recognise how the strategic use of technology can help meet enterprise-wide goals, like higher student engagement and improved learning outcomes.”

From http://www.futuregov.asia 10/16/2013

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Public Sector Management Program Put to Market

 

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has put its hallmark Public Sector Management Program out to market after it issued a calling for a higher education institution to manage the course by updating its curriculum and delivering it across all states and territories in Australia. A staple qualification for ascendant public servants, the Program has been operating since 1991 after Prime Minister Bob Hawke proposed its creation to the states and territories in 1989 as a cooperative venture between the federal, state and territory governments to cater for the strong demand for professional education and management training within government. The course’s core qualification is the well regarded Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Management, which is awarded to all successful participants who are normally nominated and sponsored by their employers. But to deliver the Program across the country, the APSC has called upon existing higher educational institutions to deliver the coursework across the nation.

 

South Australia’s Flinders University successfully made the cut to the Program after it secured a $1.5 million contract with the APSC in 2008. That contract was originally scheduled to finish in August 2011, but was extended in March 2012 and again in June 2013 – finally ending in August 2013. Now the APSC is recontesting the contract to find an educational institution to update the curriculum and deliver the program after the present curriculum was reviewed by the Curriculum Review Committee (CRC) in 2012. The APSC concluded from that review that it needed a “full curriculum refresh” to maintain the Public Sector Management Program as a “key public sector practical management skills development tool, tailored for local contextualisation to the participating jurisdictions”. When the new educational institution has taken over the role of managing the program, it will be expected to market the program, manage enrolments and deliver the courses. One element to the government’s advantage is that competition for specialist external course contracts is intense as universities struggle to maintain numbers of foreign students often priced out by a strong Australia dollar. According to the tender documents, the program delivery will begin in Semester 1, 2015 and run until completion of the contract, which will run for a period of five years and may be extended for two further periods of one year each.

From http://www.governmentnews.com.au 10/18/2013

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FIJI: Calls for Urgent Attention on Problems of LDC

 

Fiji has called for greater international attention to the acute problems of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Speaking in Fiji's capacity as Chair of the 133-member Group of 77 and China, Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Peter Thomson told the UN's Second Committee that “bold actions and strengthened partnership for development are urgently required.” Ambassador Thomson said that agreed Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) commitments must be met if the LDCs are to progress. Other commitments that should be fulfilled in a timely manner are “implementation of duty-free and quota-free marketing access on a lasting basis for all of the LDCs”. Ambassador Thomson reported that there has been some modest progress in the two years since the Istanbul Programme of Action was put in place for LDCs.

 

However he said LDCs continue to face pervasive poverty, serious structural impediments to growth, low levels of human development, and high exposure to shocks and disasters. He said that the deterioration of the global economic environment had been transmitted to LDCs in the form of declining Foreign Direct Investment and ODA flows. Thomson noted that all LDCs are lagging behind in the critical areas of science, technology and innovation and that these play an important role in development. In this context he said the Group of 77 supported the establishment, during the current session of the UN General Assembly, of a proposed technology bank for LDCs. There are forty-nine countries on the UN's LDC list. These countries include the Pacific Small Island Developing States of Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

From MINFO 10/23/2013

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NEW ZEALAND: Govt Figures Show Benefit Numbers Continue to Fall

 

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has paraded what she calls a dramatic drop in benefit numbers as proof that the Government's welfare changes are working. Figures released on Thursday show the number of people receiving benefits in the September quarter dropped to about 305,000 - about 16,5000 fewer than the year before. Ms Bennett says benefit numbers fell by about 5400 in the September quarter - the third quarterly drop in a row. She says more than 3000 fewer people are receiving Sole Parent Support and at least 2000 fewer are receiving Jobseeker Support. Labour Party MP Sue Moroney asked Ms Bennett in Parliament on Thursday whether she could guarantee that those people were not falling further into poverty. Ms Bennett said the number of people coming off welfare without a job to go into had stayed the same for the past decade - whereas the number going into a job had risen.

From http://www.radionz.co.nz 10/17/ 2013

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OECD: Employment Gains Offset by Long-term Jobless Data

 

The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris said the employment picture improved in the second quarter, but long-term unemployment rose. The unemployment rate for the group's 34 member states held steady in August from Jul at 7.9 percent, the group said. That compares to a steady 8 percent unemployment rate among 34 of the globe's largest economies in April, May and June, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Those are steady numbers. Less steady and rising, the percentage of unemployed persons who have been unemployed for 12 months or more is rising, climbing to 35.3 percent in the second quarter from 34.9 percent in the first. It is also a sharp jump from 27 percent in the final quarter of 2007, just as the recession began in the United States. The actual number has risen to a daunting 17 million long-term unemployed in the second quarter from 8.6 million i the final quarter of 2007. The organization also said this week that the employment rate for its members rose marginally in the second quarter of 2013.

 

The organization said the employment rate for its members was 65.1 percent in the second quarter, 0.1 percentage points above the first quarter of the year. In a notice released Tuesday, OECD said the employment rate fell in the second quarter by 0.1 percentage point to 63.4 in the 17 countries that share the euro as currency, known as the eurozone. The employment rate, the percentage of people of working age with jobs, fell by 0.5 percentage points in Italy to 55.5 percent and rose 0.2 percentage points to 73.3 percent in Germany. In France, which has the eurozone's second largest economy after Germany, the employment rate held steady at 64 percent. OECD represents countries in the Americans and in Asia, as well. In Japan the employment rate gained 0.3 percentage points to 71.5 percent in the second quarter compared to the first. In Britain, it rose 0.1 percentage points to 70.5 percent. In Canada, it rose 0.1 percentage points to 72.6 percent. It the United States, the rate was unchanged at 67.3 percent, OECD said.

From http://www.upi.com/ 10/16/2013

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OECD Says Employment Rising, but Still Off Pre-crisis Level

 

Employment in the countries that make up the OECD rose to 65.1 percent of working-age people in the second quarter, the organisation said Tuesday, higher than in the previous quarter, but short of pre-crisis levels. Among the world's richest economies, the OECD said employment increased in Japan by 0.3 percentage points to 71.5 percent and by 0.1 percentage points in Britain to reach 70.5 percent. The United States remained stable at 67.3 percent. The 17-nation eurozone showed deep divergence, with employment in Germany up 0.2 percent to 73.3 percent, but down 0.5 percent in struggling Italy to 55.5 percent. The overall rate in the currency bloc stood at a slightly higher 63.4 percent. The OECD-wide level for the April-June period was 0.1 percent higher than the previous quarter, but still 1.4 percent lower than the second quarter of 2008, just prior to the fall of Lehman Brothers and the ensuing world recession. The OECD said that employment levels increased for all age groups, though employment for youths, a particularly hard-hit bracket in developed countries, dipped 0.2 percentage points since a year earlier. Boosting jobs is a key priority for world policy-makers as pervasive joblessness not only acerbates social tensions but also cuts consumer demand, which is key to jumpstart growth. In July, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development along with the International Labour Organization urged G20 leaders to work together to boost policies for jobs and the job market. An applicant goes through paperwork at a Manhattan job fair in New York City on January 17, 2013

From http://nz.sports.yahoo.com/ 10/16/2013

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17 Million People Jobless for Over a Year: OECD

 

Reflecting the severity of economic turmoil, a whopping 17 million people are without a job for more than a year in the developed world, according to the latest data available with Paris-based think tank OECD. The estimates, based on numbers available till three months ended June this year, are for a grouping of 33 nations including the United States and Spain. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is an umbrella entity of 34 countries. The latest estimates exclude Chile. According to data compiled by OECD, one in three of the unemployed people in the member nations have been out of work for more than 12 months at the end of June quarter. “At 35.3 per cent of total unemployed, this is the highest level since the crisis began (Q4 2007) when long-term unemployment stood at 27 per cent. “That represents nearly 17 million people, nearly double the number of long-term unemployed in Q4 2007, then around 8.6 million,” the grouping has said.

 

Since the start of global financial crisis, which worsened in 2008, unemployment numbers have been on the rise as corporates trimmed workforce to save costs. Also, the pace of generation of new jobs has come down. Among the member nations, Iceland and the United States have seen the biggest rise in long-term unemployment. “Iceland has seen the biggest rise in long-term unemployment, up by 238 per cent to affect around one in five of the unemployed (18.2 per cent), and the United States, up 167 per cent to one in four (26.5 per cent),” OECD said. Long term unemployment refers to being out of work for over 12 months. Other countries with high levels of long-term unemployment include Slovak Republic (70.7 per cent), Greece (65.5 per cent), Ireland (59 per cent), Italy (56.4 per cent), Portugal (56.1 per cent), Slovenia (49.6 per cent), Spain (49.3 per cent) and Estonia (48.5 per cent).

From http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/ 10/20/2013

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APEC Health Ministers Issue Statement on Health and the Economy

 

APEC Health Ministers issued a statement at the conclusion of a two-day gathering of the Third APEC High Level Meeting on Health and the Economy. Ministers agreed that health is an important and critical component of economic and trade development and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Health also serves as one of key pillars of APEC’s 2013 second priority: Sustainable growth with equity. “The output we aim for in this High-Level Meeting is a set of recommendations to help us in our respective efforts to achieve sustainable healthcare systems throughout APEC member economies,” H.E. Nafsiah Mboi, Indonesian Minister of Health, said in her opening remarks. “This is a “win-win” situation for us all – it will improve the quality of life and productivity of our people while at the same time contributing to the growth of our economies and lowering individual and health costs, ”added Minister Mboi. The statement recommends APEC Ministers and Leaders focus on the following areas: Advocate a Whole-of-Government and Whole-of-Society approach.

 

Request Senior Officials to form a consultative mechanism of relevant APEC groups and stakeholders to prepare for a high-level discussion between the health and finance community to ensure sustainability of the health financing system. Call for a study on health care budget setting, allocation processes, and financing mechanisms to ensure equity of health access. Support programs for advanced training in areas including Global Medical Product Quality and Supply Chain Integrity to ensure secure access to safe medical products. Welcome the Medan Principles for Public-Private Partnerships in Infection Control and the APEC Policy Tool kit for Building the Capacity to Address Healthcare-Associated Infections. Acknowledge the need to address the significant burdens of mental illness; life course concerns, including the changing demands on health systems as the population ages. Welcome and endorse initiatives to build capacity in regulatory sciences. Recognizing that Traditional and Complementary Alternative Medicine has the potential to strengthen primary health care. Welcome work to ensure that economies’ health workforces are sufficient in size and adequately trained. Encourage the inclusion of universal health coverage in the post-2015 development agenda. Share best practices on health promotion and preventative care, nutrition and education. Strengthening of Primary Health Care involving all stakeholders including health and non-health sectors.

From http://www.apec.org/ 09/25/2013

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Emerging Asian Economies Expected to Remain Resilient but Structural Reform Critical, Says New Economic Outlook for Southeast Asia, China and India

 

The economic outlook for Emerging Asia (Southeast Asia, China and India) remains robust over the medium term, anchored by the steady rise in domestic demand, according to a new report from the OECD Development Centre. GDP growth in Emerging Asia is projected to moderate gradually but stay resilient over the 2014-18 period, with an average annual growth of 6.9%, albeit less than the 8.6% registered before the global financial crisis (2000-07). The region will continue to play an important role in global growth. The Economic Outlook for Southeast Asia, China and India says Indonesia is projected to be the fastest-growing ASEAN6 economy with an average annual growth rate of 6.0% in 201418, followed by the Philippines with 5.8%. Real GDP growth in Malaysia and Thailand is projected to increase by an annual 5.1% and 4.9% respectively, led by domestic demand, especially in infrastructure investment and private consumption. Singapore’s economy is forecast to grow by 3.3%. Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam are expected to grow at a robust pace over the medium term. “The success of emerging Asian economies will hinge on managing several challenges”, said OECD Deputy Secretary General Rintaro Tamaki. “To harness the medium-term growth potential, it is critical that policy makers implement structural policies to reap the benefits of capital flows and foster closer economic cooperation and integration in the region.”

 

Mario Pezzini, Director of the OECD Development Centre added, “While Emerging Asia has made remarkable economic progress over the past four decades, some of the middle-income developing economies face difficult challenges to sustain their long-term growth and move beyond the middle-income trap. Indeed, success will require fundamental changes in economic structure and further development of the modern services sectors.” In the “best scenario”, if fundamental changes are applied, China and Thailand could become high-income countries within 20 years. On the other hand, Viet Nam and India will need more than 40 years to reach the high-income group. To grow beyond the middle-income trap, these Emerging Asia countries need to shift away from growth that is driven primarily by factor accumulation. They should rather embrace growth based on productivity increases driven by improvements in the quality of human capital and innovation. Best scenario simulation of estimated time required to become high income countries for selected Asian middle income countries (years).

 

Source: OECD Development Centre. Note: Based on World Bank’s criterion for classifying economies, high income countries are defined as having GNI per capita above USD 12 000 in 2013. Growth prospects in this simulation are in line with MPF-2014. Population projections are based on UN data.‌‌ The Outlook examines policy insights for China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam that come from the development experiences of other advanced Asian economies such as Japan, Korea and Singapore. While manufacturing will continue to be important, the middle-income countries of the region should also consider further developing their service sectors, especially in finance, information and communications technology, and business services.

 

According to the OECD Product Market Regulation Indicators (PMR) – widely used as an indicator of the stringency of regulation – China and Indonesia’s services markets are considerably more restricted than those of more advanced Asian economies, notably Japan and Korea, and the most restrictive among the largest developing countries. The report states that the further development of institutional capacities which help to enhance human capital, foster competition and innovation, and facilitate infrastructure development, also needs to be central to development strategies of the middle-income Emerging Asian countries. On-going efforts to achieve greater regional integration can have a potentially high payoff in helping the middle-income countries in Emerging Asia to reduce the gap with the higher-income countries. Country notes are available for: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 10/08/2013

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The Combined eCommerce Spending of Australia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea Will Reach $854 Billion by 2018

 

Recently published Forrester Research Online Retail Forecast, 2013 To 2018 (Asia Pacific) reveals some interesting insights on the evolution of online retail spending and the online buyer populations across Australia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea. The forecast details online spend for each of the following categories: computer hardware and software; consumer electronics; beauty and cosmetics; media (books, music, and videos); apparel and accessories; footwear; and appliances (personal and home). Each country is at one of three different stages of eCommerce adoption:

 

Nascent: In the nascent stage, online buyers form a very small share of the total online population, with only a small percentage of Internet users purchasing online; India is one example. Although the retail opportunity is huge in India, we believe that India is still at least eight years behind China in terms of eCommerce adoption because of infrastructure issues and only minimal government support.

Ascending: In the ascending stage, online buyer penetration increases much faster. If it takes 10 years for online buyer penetration to increase from 5% to 25% of the total online population in the nascent stage, it can grow from 25% to 50% in half that time during the ascending stage — driving faster growth in online retail spending. China is in the ascending stage. As a result, the number of online buyers in China will surpass the total population of the US by the end of next year.

Mature: eCommerce in Japan, Australia, and South Korea is now (relatively) mature. Although the opportunity for growth still exists, it is constrained by the tailing off of growth in the number of online buyers.

 

The drivers for eCommerce growth differ from country to country, driven by:

Growth in the number of online buyers. The large populations of China and India are fueling the growth in the number of online buyers. As buyers' online tenure increases, their comfort with online purchasing will increase as well. Online wallet shift. We see the shift in wallet share to online mostly in developed economies, such as Australia, Japan, and South Korea — they have a mature online buyer population and consumers are already comfortable purchasing items in different categories online. The online wallet shift will continue as consumers expand the number of categories they purchase online. Despite the global economic slowdown, the combined online retail spending of the five Asia Pacific countries grew nearly fivefold during the past four years because of these growth drivers —and they will continue to drive future growth. We expect the combined online retail spending of Australia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea to more than double over the next five years, reaching $854 billion by 2018.

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 10/08/2013

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Analysis of APEC Actions to Meet New Economic Conditions

 

Improved trade and domestic consumption is needed to spur growth and job creation around the Pacific Rim which the region’s economies are intent on achieving by implementing their deepened commitments to liberalize markets and make it easier to do cross-border business. APEC researchers shed light on the details this week in Singapore. They did so in conjunction with a Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy-hosted analysis of the shifting economic landscape and expansion of policy collaboration between APEC economies throughout this year in Indonesia and heading towards 2014 when China will guide the agenda as chair. “Stimulus policies to calm financial markets have proven effective but the unstable growth path underscores the need for emerging and developing APEC economies to accelerate rebalancing towards greater private investment and household consumption,” said Dr Denis Hew, Director of the APEC Policy Support Unit. “Enhancing the flow of goods, services, people and capital across borders can help to drive this process.”

 

The APEC region, which has outperformed the rest of the world during the post-financial crisis period, now accounts for about 57 percent of global gross domestic product and 47 percent of total trade. But APEC growth, which was 4.1 percent in 2012, is expected to slow in 2013 before picking up only gradually in 2014, according to the Policy Support Unit. “Our immediate focus is on achieving successful outcomes at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in December and the conclusion of negotiations to expand product coverage of the Information Technology Agreement prior to that,” Dr Hew explained. “This is obviously a critical moment which APEC is backing with its size and examples of progress in advancing trade liberalization and regional economic integration.” Within this mix, APEC economies are moving ahead with their commitment to lower tariffs on a list of key environmental goods by 2015 and explore parallel opportunities in the WTO. Other priorities include improving communication between different free trade agreement participants and advancing technical assistance and cooperation to support the ultimate delivery of a Free-Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.

 

“As the region’s economies break down trade barriers such as complex customs procedures and improve understanding about issues like government procurement and dispute settlement proceedings, greater connectivity between members is critical to ensuring that businesses and people are in a position to reap the benefits,” said Quynh Le, a macroeconomist with the Policy Support Unit. “An APEC framework is now in place to facilitate this which includes a focus on delivering bankable infrastructure projects through public-private partnerships to support cheaper, more efficient and reliable supply chains.” “We are seeing important developments underway for the movement of capital in the Asia-Pacific such as a new funds passport pilot that could help to channel savings into productive investment,” Le added. Expansion of the APEC Business Travel Card scheme and work to meet a new target of one million intra-APEC university level students per year by 2020, an estimated 25 percent increase from current levels, could have similar impacts in improving the flow of human capital. “Bringing the region’s talent pool closer together, including students and researchers that will generate the next generation of commercial innovations, is a major focus right now among APEC economies,” Le concluded. “The return on this investment could open the door significantly to a new era of growth in a region of nearly three billion people.”

From http://www.apec.org/ 10/25/2013

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CHINA: 100 Websites Pledge Healthy, Positive Content

 

One hundred websites and news portals pledged to create a healthy and positive cyber environment for minors here on Sunday.They called on all Internet media organizations to advocate the Chinese dream, which is characterized by national prosperity and rejuvenation as well as citizens living a happy life.Their calls also include setting up examples from which youth can learn, eliminating harmful information on the Internet and offering online services such as psychological counseling, legal assistance and poverty reduction.They announced the pledge amid an Internet-cleaning campaign jointly initiated by the State Internet Information Office, the Ministry of Education, the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China and the All-China Women's Federation on Sept. 16.

 

The campaign is targeted at creating a positive and healthy Internet culture for the good of youngsters.The 100 participating websites include such big names as people.com, xinhuanet.com, sina.com, sohu.com, baidu.com and qq.com.Zhao Guochen, the deputy editor of qq.com, believes stricter content management is imperative. Zhao said qq.com's editorial team blocked any content they deemed vulgar, particularly in qq's education and children's channels, and they impose rigorous supervision over such material.The clean-up campaign also came against the backdrop of an increasing young population hooked on the Internet.According to a recent survey conducted by the China Youth Association for Network Development, over 24 million young people are addicted to the Internet, and another 18 million show such an inclination.Li Zhanjiang, vice president of Beijing Anding Hospital, a hospital specializing in mental health, said it was predicted that harm caused by Internet addiction will be no less than addiction to heroin.

 

Without effective interventions, web addiction will impede young people's healthy growth.Wang Jisheng, a psychology professor with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, argued that the Internet itself should not take all the blame for youngsters' cyber addiction. The Internet is supposed to enrich Chinese students' rote-learning-centered education, but it has not been used properly.As China's school system still attaches great importance to students' exam performance, overloaded students tend to seek a vent for their pressure, Wang said, so once they get to know the kaleidoscopic information on the Internet, they often lose self control.According to statistics reported by the China Internet Network Information Center, as of June 2013, China had 591 million web users, including 320 million under 30, or 54 percent of the total.

From http://www.news.cn/ 09/30/2013

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China Confident in Meeting Economic Targets: Premier

 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday reaffirmed China's confidence in achieving its goals for economic development in 2013."We have the confidence, conditions and ability to meet the main targets projected for our economic and social development this year," said Li while addressing a reception held at the Great Hall of the People to mark the 64th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.Li said this year marks the first year in fully implementing the spirit of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Facing the complex domestic and international situation, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council made scientific judgements and decisions on forging ahead for new progress and results while maintaining stability, he explained.China has taken the transformation of government functions as a breakthrough point in deepening reform.

 

Various measures have been taken to properly handle the government's relationship with the market and society, release the dividends of reform and galvanize dynamism in the market, the internal driving force for development and the creativity of the general public, according to the premier.A holistic approach has been adopted to strike a balance between maintaining growth, readjusting economic structure and promoting reform, and a series of policy measures have been carried out to serve both the immediate and long-term needs of development, Li said."We have kept our macro policies stable, innovated in adjustment methods, and effectively guided market expectations," he said, adding the Chinese economy has shown good momentum for further growth.Li told his audience that China is currently at a crucial stage for economic readjustment and upgrading and still confronted with many challenges. There is still a long way to go before modernization is achieved.

 

He vowed China will accelerate its shift in growth model, intensify economic restructuring, and upgrade the national economy. He said employment will be taken as the basis of people's livelihood, while the government will step up efforts to develop social undertakings, such as education, medical care, public health and cultural projects, so as to ensure that the achievements of development benefit all the people in a more effective way.According to Li, China will build a clean and law-based government, so that all members of society can access fair opportunities and a level playing field, and achieve the success that they deserve through their own efforts.When it comes to Hong Kong and Macao, the premier reiterated that the central government will adhere to the principle of "one country, two systems," strictly follow the Basic Law and ensure long-term prosperity and stability in these regions.

 

"We will continue to promote peaceful development of cross-Straits relations for the benefit of people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits," Li went on.He added that China will stay firm on the path of peaceful development, and uphold the principle of mutual benefit in international cooperation."China stands ready to share development opportunities with other countries and work in concert with them to tackle challenges, maintain world peace and regional stability, and create an even brighter future for mankind," the premier said.Li also met with some new foreign ambassadors to China before the reception, and pledged to further bilateral ties with those countries.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/01/2013

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China Tops APEC CEOs' Picks for Investment

 

Despite signs of an economic slowdown and capital outflows, a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study of chief executive officers (CEOs) in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries found 68 percent are planning to increase investments.Over the next year, executives believe rapid urbanization, the expanding middle-class and a burgeoning demand for infrastructure will continue to generate new growth, PwC said Saturday.China tops CEOs' picks for investments in the next three to five years, followed by Indonesia and the United States, according to the survey of 500 business leaders."China has been recognized by global CEOs as a key destination for business investment in the future thanks to its competitive production costs and growing technological skills," said David Wu, PwC Beijing senior partner.

 

"China understands the need for urbanization and greater investment in infrastructure. This complements the desire for environmentally friendly and low-carbon projects outlined by the National Congress as part of the 12th Five-Year Plan," Wu added.Enjoying an almost infinite supply of cheap labor, easily obtained credit and an economy that never stopped running, many multinational corporations struck gold by helping turn a one-time economic backwater into the world's factory floor that churns out everything for everywhere.But as GDP growth slowed, wages surged and financial risks increased, economists warned the world's second largest economy, the engine driving global growth, could be losing steam.The CEOs, however, still think the Chinese economy is best prepared to handle changes, describing macroeconomic stability and regulatory consistency the most important qualities that help an economy bounce back from disruption, according to the PwC survey.

 

The survey also found confidence among Asia Pacific-based executives is on the rise. Forty-two percent of executives said they are "very confident" of revenue growth in the coming year, up from 36 percent in 2012.According to the study, the trend toward urbanization in many Asia Pacific economies, the emergence of the middle class, and the need for infrastructure contributes most to the increase in confidence.About 87 percent of the CEOs said middle-income consumers will influence their growth strategies. Nearly half of investment increases will center around new product development, services and distribution capabilities. A quarter of CEOs surveyed plan "significant" changes to product mixes, distribution, brand and customer service strategies.The survey also found regulatory inconsistencies among Asia Pacific economies are holding back more investment in the region. A fifth of CEOs said they were "highly likely" to invest more if rules concerning intellectual property, corporate governance and services were harmonized across the region.PwC surveyed nearly 500 business leaders on their attitudes towards doing business in the region for the study titled "Towards resilience and growth: Asia Pacific business in transition".

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/05/2013

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Big-Data-Based Reform to Facilitate Economic Restructuring

 

China's financial reform accelerated after a package of policies were unveiled to offer guidance to facilitate economic restructuring. The success of the reform may rely on big data technology, experts have said.Big data technology has contributed to the development of Internet finance, easing financing difficulties, boosting information consumption, aiding private capital to support the real economy and controlling financial risks."Big-data-based financial practice means recognizing information value and improving insight of consumers' needs by production, exchange, management and application of data," said Tian Guichang, a big data scientist with Beijing JinLongCai Tech&Trading Co., Ltd.With an open platform, abundant data resources and risk analysis, big-data based finance can ease financing difficulties for small businesses, as their nontransparent operation and risk information often turns off banks' interest to lend them money, said Zhang Che, vice general manager of the asset management department of BOC International (China) Ltd.

 

"Big data offers more insight into a company's credit and risk, thus reducing the company's financing costs and enhancing a bank's willingness," Zhang said.Meanwhile, as information consumption increases, consumers' growing diversified needs ask for more comprehensive and innovative financial services."Big data offers more insight into consumers' consumption habits, which allows targeted financial products and services, thus spurring domestic consumption," said Tan Yaling, head of the China Forex Investment Research Institute.Real-time monitoring and risk analysis of financial data will also aid the sector's risk control especially as China steps up its efforts to liberalize interest rates, Tan added.Internet finance has become a hot topic after the State Council in August unveiled plans to boost information consumption with the bid to facilitate domestic consumption and economic restructuring.

 

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has partnered with China Minsheng Banking Corp., Ltd., the largest private bank in the country, to capitalize on their strengths in consumer data analysis, direct selling and IT services following the State Council's call for private capital to aid cash-strained small businesses.Despite its value, big data also poses challenges to financial reforms as tiny mistakes may cause big problems, said Chen Bingcai, vice director of the department of policy-making consultation with the Chinese Academy of Governance, a state think tank."The bottom line for the use of big data is to keep financial reform safe and stable, and to serve the real economy," Chen added.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/06/2013

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China's Economy Transforming but Challenges Remain

 

China's economic growth is becoming more balanced but there are still some important issues to be addressed, according to a US expert. China's economy had grown at a tremendous pace and the current big challenge is to go from an unbalanced to a balanced economy, said Stephen Roach, a senior fellow at Yale University and former chief economist at Morgan Stanley Asia, at a New York Society of Security Analysts forum Wednesday. China also needs to open up the market to more active participation by foreign companies and address the issues, including transparency of corporate governance, and there was a lot pressure on the Chinese to do that, Roach said."I'm hopeful that you'll see some moves to further open up their markets to outside investors and address some of these issues," he said. Roach said the central bank and central government were sending a strong signal that the leveraged credit-driven growth would change.

 

China's growth rate slowed in the first quarter this year and the leadership was sending the message they were willing to accept slower growth without physical stimulus, the economist said. He also saw early signs of a shift, but he thought the new leadership is different in that they want to go deeper than just quantitative growth and really address quality of growth. However, James Chanos, president and managing partner at Kynikos Associates LP, told the event that shadow banking is a big risk in China and loans going to local funding vehicles are the most likely to suffer financial distress. He also warned China should be careful with the housing market's share of China's GDP. Chanos suggested China slow credit growth, but the problem is that every time that happens, the economy slows further, creating a "chicken and egg" problem, which makes the transition more difficult.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/11/2013

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Vice Premier Stresses Health Care for Elderly

 

Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong on Sunday called for efforts to develop health care for the elderly.Liu made the remarks while inspecting a nursing home in Beijing, on the day when 600,000 medical staff started a nationwide week-long campaign to provide free medical consultation for the public across the country.Liu said nongovernmental sectors should be encouraged to participate in the nursing and health care for the aged, while grassroots medical institutions shall play a more active role in community-level daily care and management of chronic diseases.China celebrated its first national Seniors' Day on Sunday. The Chinese government has made the ninth day of the ninth lunar month a day to honor senior citizens since 1989, and the revised law on protection of the rights and interests of the elderly that went effective on July 1 designated the day as Seniors' Day.China will complete a social care network for its elderly by 2020, when the aged group is expected to reach 243 million, according to a program announced by the State Council last month.China's population above age 60 reached 194 million by the end of last year, and China is the only country in the world with a senior population above 100 million. The figure is expected to exceed 300 million by 2025.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/14/2013

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Chinese Economy Maintains Solid Growth Pace

 

Despite many worries in the first half of this year, the economic data in the third quarter showed that China's economy was still keeping a steady and solid growth.China's imports in September increased 7.4 percent from a year ago, accelerating from August's 7-percent rise, according to the General Administration of Customs.Taking into account exchange rate fluctuations, the country's foreign trade volume rose 3.3 percent in September, down from August's 7.1-percent rise and July's 7.8-percent rise, said Zheng Yuesheng, spokesman of the General Administration of Customs.Although challenged by a complicated global economic situation, he said the country's foreign trade was stabilizing with improved structure.China's net exports, fixed-asset investment and retail sales, had all had a stable performance since the beginning of the third quarter, said Xu Pingsheng of the State Information Center, a top government think-tank.

 

On the other hand, about 60 percent of China's listed companies expected their profits to rise in the third quarter due to cyclical recovery and fast growth of emerging industries, a report of the China Securities News said on Sept. 23.China is set to release its third-quarter GDP data on Oct 18. Analysts expect growth to exceed 7.5 percent from a year ago."Growth in China is expected to meet the official indicative target of 7.5 percent this year. The short-term outlook is improving as industrial production data suggests further strengthening of output in the third quarter," according to a World Bank report."China is likely to see further rebalancing of its economy by slowing credit growth and investment, although the pacing is likely to depend on overall growth," said the report.While maintaining macro-economic stability, experts suggest China should continue to pursue reforms to improve the quality and efficiency of economic development.As substantial uncertainties remain in the global economic outlook, the policymakers have to strengthen their efforts, particularly in setting comprehensive growth and reform strategies, said Yi Gang, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China.Yi noted that conditions are in place for China to undertake further interest rate liberalization and capital account convertibility, and the Chinese authorities remain committed to exchange rate reform.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/15/2013

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China Prepares for Smart City Construction Boom

 

Li Wei, who took a vacation to escape her big city life, did not expect her short stay in the small coastal city of Wanning on China's tropical island of Hainan Province, to be so "digital.""Download a film within two minutes, scan two-dimensional codes with phones to learn about tropical plants, and make a body-building plan at the hotel's smart health room -- It totally threw me," Li said.Wanning, which strives to boost its tourist industry by investing in making itself "smarter," is among 193 trial cities that have been approved by China's urban planning authorities to develop into "smart cities."The smart city program, initiated last November, is part of the country's efforts to explore ways to foster a new type of urbanization.Analysts believe that the program has presented a beautiful picture for both the country's future urban life and the potential of its economic growth.

 

First created by IBM, the "smart cities" concept promotes the use of new technologies such as the "Internet of Things," which allows users to control and manipulate objects through computers and cloud computing to boost information sharing and coordination within a city.Such a concept is expected to generate changes in fields ranging from transportation to the financial sector. With the help of data analysis, big cities will be able to calculate traffic and make rational transportation routes to ease any gridlock.In Beijing, a network based on the "Internet of Things" will be completed by 2015 to facilitate the operation of transportation, tele-medicine and a smart home. While Shanghai will focus on developing wireless broadband technology and boosting the application of intelligent technology."The construction of smart cities will facilitate the transformation of China's urban industries, innovate social management, improve the ecological environment and promote the public services system," said Guo Liqiao, deputy director of the department of science and technology at the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MHURD).

 

According to Guo, aside from the current 193 trial cities, many other places have submitted applications for the smart city program, indicating that more local governments have realized that the old path of urbanization can not support sustainable development of the local economy.More than 80 of the trial cities have signed smart city design plans with the MHURD, which describe the tasks of local authorities regarding the building of smart cities over the next three to five years. The signing signals the start of actual construction.A report conducted by McKinsey Global Institute showed that China's urban population will grow from 63 million in 2010 to reach 990 million in 2030, and cities with a population exceeding 1 million are likely to increase from 153 to 226 in the period."The transfer of such a huge urban population means that many small towns and villages will become cities, which requires local governments to increase efforts in boosting city construction," said Wang Yukai, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance.

 

Official data showed that a few financial institutes, including China Development Bank, the country's policy bank, have promised to loan no less than 440 billion yuan (72 billion U.S.dollars) to fund the construction of smart cities since the launch of the program.The program came as China's growth got stuck in a protracted slowdown. Growth in the world's second largest economy declined to 7.7 percent in the first quarter and 7.5 percent in the second quarter."The investment in the sector will be huge," Wang said. He said that many industries, especially smart technology and digital companies, will benefit from the program, but it is still early to estimate the overall market size as the smart city concept is quite new.Although the market generally viewed the program as a boost to the economy, many worried that the rush may lead to blind construction.Wang suggested that the government should make an overall plan and gradually establish standards for smart city construction."Rome wasn't built in a day. The construction of smart cities should be a gradual process," he said.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/16/2013

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Scientists Achieve Internet Access Through Lightbulbs

 

Successful experiments by Chinese scientists have indicated the possibility of the country's netizens getting online through signals sent by lightbulbs (LiFi), instead of WiFi.Four computers under a one-watt LED lightbulb may connect to the Internet under the principle that light can be used as a carrier instead of traditional radio frequencies, as in WiFi, said Chi Nan, an information technology professor with Shanghai's Fudan University, on Thursday.A lightbulb with embedded microchips can produce data rates as fast as 150 megabits per second, which is speedier than the average broadband connection in China, said Chi, who leads a LiFi research team including scientists from the Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.With LiFi cost-effective as well as efficient, netizens should be excited to view 10 sample LiFi kits that will be on display at the China International Industry Fair that will kick off on Nov. 5 in Shanghai.

 

The current wireless signal transmission equipment is expensive and low in efficiency, said Chi."As for cell phones, millions of base stations have been established around the world to strengthen the signal but most of the energy is consumed on their cooling systems," she explained. "The energy utilization rate is only 5 percent."Compared with base stations, the number of lightbulbs that can be used is practically limitless. Meanwhile, Chinese people are replacing the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs with LED lightbulbs at a fast pace."Wherever there is an LED lightbulb, there is an Internet signal," said Chi. "Turn off the light and there is no signal."However, there is still a long way to go to make LiFi a commercial success."If the light is blocked, then the signal will be cut off," said Chi.More importantly, according to the scientist, the development of a series of key related pieces of technology, including light communication controls as well as microchip design and manufacturing, is still in an experimental period.The term LiFi was coined by Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh in the UK and refers to a type of visible light communication technology that delivers a networked, mobile, high-speed communication solution in a similar manner as WiFi.

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/17/2013

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Japan-U.S. Security Talks Likely to Highlight Tokyo's Cyber-Defense Gaps

 

Top U.S. security officials meet their Japanese counterparts on Thursday as concerns are growing that the hosts can not protect themselves from malicious internet hackers. Cybersecurity is on the agenda when the military and diplomatic chiefs of the two countries hold their first joint meeting in Japan. But even Japanese officials acknowledge they can not keep up with the proliferating threat of attacks on computer networks from private or state-sponsored hackers. “Cyber attacks are getting more and more sophisticated, and sometimes we cannot defend against them using the systems we currently have in place,” said Kazunori Kimura, the Defense Ministry’s director of cyber-defense planning. “I don’t have enough people, equipment or money to do the job,” Kimura told Reuters TV. “Attacks using viruses have become increasingly difficult to detect.” Attacks so far appear mostly to have allowed intruders to snoop and steal files, experts say. But the attacks could become more dangerous, paralyzing essential computer or communications systems.

 

Japan’s lack of effective cyber-defense overhangs Thursday’s meeting of Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel with their counterparts, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera. The “2+2” meeting aims to set a framework for revising the treaty allies’ security guidelines to “update and renovate them” in line with “new challenges” that have arisen in the more than 15 years since the Cold War-era agreement was first revised, said a senior State Department official. This includes co-operation in space and cyberspace, where the two sides are seeking agreement on “enhanced information security,” the official told reporters en route to Tokyo. The Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee Meeting comes at a delicate time for both countries’ relations with China, a country often accused of being a leading proponent of internet hacking. U.S. relations with China have been strained by Washington’s accusations that Beijing engages in cyber-theft of trade secrets. China rejects the accusations and is itself angered by revelations by fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden of U.S. electronic surveillance activities in China and Hong Kong.

 

At the same time, relations between Japan and China are at their lowest ebb in years over disputed islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan. Japan suffered well publicised cyberattacks in the past, such as breaches of parliament and military contractor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd in 2011. In fact, attacks on the Japanese government are continuing constantly. Government networks were hit by some 3,000 potential attacks a day in 2012, more than double the number of previous year, says the Cabinet Secretariat, which staffs a small, 24-hour cyber-surveillance team. “The Defense Ministry gets hacked every day, but all they do is watch and then after the fact simply report that there has been an attack,” said an outside contractor for the ministry, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of discussing the issue. Partly this is a result of Japanese laws that do not allow victims to “hack back” at cyber-attackers. “We can’t even investigate who is doing the hacking,” said Itsuro Nishimoto, chief technical officer at LAC Co, a Tokyo-based IT security firm that says it monitors 750 clients, including government entities and businesses.

 

But the outside contractor said the problem runs much deeper. “There’s no one at the Defense Ministry who understands cyberspace,” he told Reuters TV. “It’s more than a problem of money or staff - they just don’t have any interest in it.” Japan has taken some steps to beef up its cyber-defense, such as setting up a Cyber Security Group in the Defense Ministry, expected to be operational next year. The ministry and Japan’s military “are developing intrusion-prevention systems and improving security and analysis devices for cyber-defense,” according to this year’s defense white paper, although it says further enhancements are needed to keep up with the escalating threat. The Defense Ministry is seeking a budget increase to centralise its loose array of about 100 cyber analysts. But so far it only monitors its own internal network, which safeguards secrets from ballistic missile defense to joint technology development with the United States. Japan’s friends are wary. “We’ve got some concerns about Japan’s cybersecurity,” said a British official involved in cybersecurity. London and Tokyo recently signed a joint weapons-development treaty. “Japan has the structures in place - it’s very good at that,” the official said. “But it needs more situational awareness. It has zero capability.”

From http://www.japantoday.com/ 10/03/2013

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India, Japan to Collaborate in ICT

 

India and Japan have decided to set up a working group to identify specific areas in information and communication technology (ICT) where they can collaborate - in areas such as cyber security. Masahiro Yoshizaki, vice minister for policy coordination, ministry of internal affairs and communications, Japan, and Anil Kaushal, member of Telecom Commission of India, signed a joint statement Thursday, which said the thrust area would be development of technology and standards. "We wish to cover many topics in ICT under this partnership. The working group will implement the intent of the joint statement," Kondo Masanori, Director for International Cooperation Affairs, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan, told IANS in an interview. Masanori said each country has its own expertise and they are looking at a mutual collaboration. "Basically we have identified three key areas of specific work - cyber security, disaster management and capacity building," added Kaushal. Masanori said Japan would look forward to Indian collaboration in combating cyber attacks. "Every day there are numerous cyber attacks. We are looking forward to combating those." Talking separately to IANS, Kaushal said Japan is much ahead in broadband technology compared to India. "We have much to learn from them."

 

There are over 50 Japanese companies in India in the ICT filed. Some renowned names include Fujitsu India, Olympus (India), Ricoh India, Panasonic Industrial Asia, Sony India and Sumitomo Electric Industries. There are also many Indian companies operating in Japan, mostly in software development. Both the countries are keen on private sector collaboration as well, he said. Talking about the importance of ICT in disaster management, Masanori said India has evinced interest to learn disaster mitigation through ICT from Japan. " The Indian government is keen to adopt our disaster mitigation strategy through ICT. We are also ready to cooperate and share." Japan, which is very prone to earthquake, manages to mitigate natural disaster to an extent using ICT. It collects data through censor-linked function, do data analysis and sends out alert to people. "Data dissemination is very important. We have to build the entire eco-system." Kaushal said it is important for India to learn disaster management, especially after the Uttarakhand floods in which thousands died. The two countries will also look forward to mutually beneficial collaboration on international platforms like the International Telecommunication Union and the Asia Pacific Telecommunity.

From http://www.sify.com 10/06/2013

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Japan Needs 80,000 EXTRA Info-Security Bods to Stay Safe

 

Japan has an 80,000 shortfall in infosec professionals, and needs to provide extra training for more than half of those currently in the industry, if it’s to protect key IT systems from attack, according to the government. A government panel of information security experts met back in June to draw up a long term plan to address Japan’s chronic shortage of trained infosec pros, according to Kyodo news agency. The panel apparently concluded that aside from the 80,000 new recruits, some 160,000 of the 265,000 currently in the industry need additional training to bring them up to speed on the latest threats. The strategy calls for a review of the current qualification system for info-security professionals as well as an update to university and other courses in the field. The aim is apparently not only to boost numbers but to find “manpower with outstanding abilities” – which is easier said than done, especially when budgets are tight and graduates continue to favour other careers.

 

One way Japan is trying to overcome the shortage is through hacking competitions and training camps, according to Kyodo. The Information-Technology Promotion Agency, overseen by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, is responsible for these and has also apparently been given budget to hire a dozen info-security grads every year. It’s unclear how the government plans to encourage the tens of thousands more needed into the industry. Cyber security skills shortages and gaps are endemic pretty much all over the developed world. Certifications body ISC2 interviewed over 12,000 members to compile its sixth annualGlobal Workforce study, published in February. Some 56 per cent said there is a workforce shortage, compared to 2 per cent that believe there is a surplus, with "security analysts" (47 per cent) most in demand. In the UK, the National Audit Office said in its Landscape Review report earlier this year that “it could take up to 20 years to address the skills gap at all levels of education”.

From http://www.theregister.co.uk 10/09/2013

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SOUTH KOREA: Gov't Expands Sales Network for Mvnos

 

The government said Thursday that it will allow virtual mobile phone firms to sell their low-cost service plans at post offices, in a bid to lower mobile rates and household communication bills. So-called mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) borrow networks from existing mobile carriers at wholesale prices, thus offering their services at cheaper rates compared with those offered by local mobile operators. They can offer cheaper mobile rates as they don't need to build their own mobile networks, a huge barrier for new players to enter the market.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 09/26/2013

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More Than 100,000 Cases of Cybercrime Occur in S. Korea Every Year

 

South Korea has seen over 100,000 cases of cybercrime every year since 2010, a lawmaker said Friday citing government data. According to Kang Dong-won, an independent lawmaker, the number of cybercrimes in the country, including hacking and distributed denial-of-service attack, was 108,223 in 2012, 116,961 in 2011 and 122,902 in 2010.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 10/04/2013

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S. Korea Tops Global ICT List for 4th Year

 

South Korea topped a global list of information and communications technology (ICT) development for the fourth year in 2013, bolstering its status as one of the world's most wired countries, data showed Monday. South Korea ranked as the leading country for the fourth straight year in the ICT Development Index, which measured 157 countries on ICT access, use and skills, according to the recent data by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a United Nations body specializing in ICT.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 10/07/2013

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S. Korea's IT Exports Jump 7.5 Pct in Sept.

 

South Korea's exports of information technology (IT) products rose from a year earlier in August, continuing their on-year growth for the 13th consecutive month, the government said Thursday. Outbound shipments of IT products reached US$15.11 billion last month, up 7.5 percent from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 10/10/2013

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S. Korea's Smartphone Market Growth Forecast to Turn Negative This Year

 

Growth in the South Korean market for smartphones is expected to turn negative this year due to market saturation, a report showed Monday. According to the report compiled by Strategy Analytics, the local market for smartphones is expected to decline 14 percent to around 26.3 million units for the year, from last year's 30.7 million units.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 10/14/2013

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Korea Tops Global IT Competitiveness 2012: ITU

 

Korea topped the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Development Index (IDI), as compiled by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), for the third year running. The ITU ranks global ICT development and progress. Korea ranked second in 2009 when the IDI began and has ranked first in the index since 2010, according to Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning. Korea achieved a score of 8.57, according to the ITU, which announced the index in its “Measuring the Information Society (MIS)” report on October 7 in Geneva, Switzerland. Sweden and Iceland ranked second and third, with scores of 8.45 and 8.36, respectively. The index compares, analyzes and assesses ICT development across 157 countries. “Korea continues to lead the world in ICT development,” said the ITU in the report. The IDI is composed of three subindices: ICT access, use and skills. In the IDI subindices, Korea topped the ICT skills category and ranked second in ICT use. Korea also came tops in other ITU categories: percentage of households with Internet access, fixed telephone subscriptions and enrolment in higher education. 

From http://www.korea.net 10/15/2013

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President at Cyberspace Conference: ‘World Should Close the Digital Divide’

 

How can we have both “security” and “openness” in cyberspace at the same time?  To find ways to make that happen, world leaders showed up in Seoul on October 17 and discussed pending cyberspace issues, including the growing rate of cyber crime and the emerging breaches of Internet security. Attending the Seoul Conference on Cyberspace 2013 at COEX, they shared their thoughts on how to free cyberspace from any kind of security infringement, while at the same time keeping it accessible to everyone around the world. The two-day convention started with an opening ceremony attended by some 1,600 representatives from 87 countries, including Korean President Park Geun-hye, British Foreign Secretary William Jefferson Hague and Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi, along with leaders from international bodies, such as the Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Hamadoun Touré.

 

In her congratulatory remarks, President Park Geun-hye hoped that the Seoul conference would contribute to the sharing of various experiences and visions. The conference will lead to global prosperity through an open and secure Internet, she said, and would also take us in the direction of a creative economy. The Korean leader called digital marginalization and the digital divide, still-prevalent issues that keep more than 4 billion people worldwide off the Internet while others enjoy its benefits, “important tasks that should be dealt with immediately.”  In this regard, the international community should come up with more practical countermeasures against the widening gap, the president said, with the hope that this conference will help more diverse and creative entrepreneurs build better information and communications technology (ICT) capability in developing nations.  “The more the Internet develops, the more cyberspace crimes --such as the leaking of personal information, spam and malicious code-- pose a threat to our security,” President Park said. “A concerted effort should be made to put international regulations and principles in place which will help tackle such threats, prevalent in cyberspace, while ensuring maximum Internet accessibility.”

She also asked that more concrete and rational measures be put forth to allow creative ideas and businesses to flow across cyberspace more freely. The world should come together to find solutions through global cooperation and networking, she said. “The ‘creative economy’ backed by IT, creative ideas, and cyberspace can lead to job creation and more venture start-ups, revitalizing the world economy as well as the Korean economy,” the president emphasized. Other leaders also voiced the need for the international community to join forces to make cyberspace more secure.  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a video message, “We all have been making efforts to make cyberspace a secure and open place, but any single country cannot realize that alone. We all should join forces to make the Internet a platform where people share their opinions in a free manner.”

British Foreign Secretary William Jefferson Hague acknowledged that despite differences among countries on key cyber issues, the global community should seek ways to build trust to jointly counter any cyber threats and enjoy the economic benefits of the Internet.  Meanwhile, Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi explained, “It is imperative that we continue to cooperate with various stakeholders to make cyberspace a safer place with infinite opportunities.”  “This Seoul cyberspace conference will serve as a stepping stone to realizing a more secure, more accessible and more affordable global network,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his congratulatory remarks via video. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Seoul Conference on Cyberspace 2013, with a larger and more diverse attendance than ever before, will lay the foundation for enhanced international cooperation on cyberspace. 

From http://www.korea.net 10/18/2013

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S. Korea Committed to Help Developing Nations Foster Internet Economy

 

South Korea is committed to joining the global efforts to help developing countries foster an Internet economy, a senior Seoul diplomat said Friday. "The Korean government hoped to provide the opportunity for different stakeholders to share constructive ideas on how developing countries can effectively foster an Internet economy and address growing cyber threats," Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul told an international conference on cyberspace security.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 10/18/2013

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South Korea Counts Its Cyber War Losses

 

South Korea has come up with a number (over $800 million) for the cost of dealing with North Korean cyber attacks over the past four years. The list the government complied is quite detailed. The latest attacks (in March and June) accounted for 93 percent of the cost. South Korea has been subjected to a growing number of Cyber War attacks since 2009, and the high cost of the latest ones shows that the North Koreans are getting better and that South Korea is not keeping up. But the South Koreans are making some progress. Earlier this year several teams of security researchers concluded that nearly all these attacks were the work of one group of 10-50 people called DarkSeoul. Given the extent of the attacks, the amount of work required to carry them out, and the lack of an economic component (no money was being stolen) it appeared that a national government was responsible. That coincides with earlier conclusions that North Korean, not Chinese, hackers were definitely responsible for several recent attacks on South Korean networks. The most compelling bit of evidence came from a March 20th incident where a North Korean hacker’s error briefly made it possible to trace back to where he was operating from. The location was in the North Korean capital at an IP address belonging to the North Korean government. Actually, very few North Korean IP addresses belong to private individuals and fewer still have access to anything outside North Korea.

 

Details of DarkSeoul were uncovered using pattern analysis of the hacker code left behind in damaged networks. There were patterns indicating the work of individual programmers and indications that there was only one organization involved in nearly all the attacks conducted since 2009. There was a lot of work involved in building all the software and assembling the resources (hacked South Korean PCs, as well as hardware and network time required by the DarkSeoul team), and all this had to be paid for by someone. The likely culprit was North Korea, which has threatened Cyber War attacks but not taken credit for them. This is typical of most North Korean attacks, both conventional and now over the Internet.  Long believed to be nonexistent, North Korean cyberwarriors apparently do exist and are not the creation of South Korean intelligence agencies trying to obtain more money to upgrade government Information War defenses. North Korea has had personnel working on Internet issues for over 20 years, and their Mirim College program trained over a thousand Internet engineers and hackers. North Korea has a unit devoted to Internet based warfare and this unit is increasingly active.

 

Since the late 1980s, Mirim College in North Korea has been known as a facility that specialized in training electronic warfare specialists. But by the late 1990s, the school was found to be teaching students how to hack the Internet and other types of networks. Originally named after the district of Pyongyang it was in, the college eventually moved and expanded. It had several name changes but its official name was always “Military Camp 144 of the Korean People's Army.” Students wore military uniforms and security on the school grounds was strict. Each year 120 students were accepted (from the elite high schools or as transfers from the best universities). Students stayed for 5 years. The school contained 5 departments: electronic engineering, command automation (hacking), programming, technical reconnaissance (electronic warfare), and computer science. There's also a graduate school, with a 3 year course (resulting in the equivalent of a Master’s Degree) for a hundred or so students.

 

It was long thought that those Mirim College grads were hard at work maintaining the government intranet, not plotting Cyber War against the south. Moreover, North Korea has been providing programming services to South Korean firms. Not a lot, but the work was competent and cheap. So it was known that there was some software engineering capability north of the DMZ. It was believed that this was being used to raise money for the government up there, not form a major Internet crime operation. But now there is the growing evidence of North Korean hackers at work in several areas of illegal activity. The Cyber War attacks apparently began around 2005, quietly and nothing too ambitious. But year-by-year, the attacks increased in frequency, intensity, and boldness. By 2009, the North Korean hackers were apparently ready for making major assaults on South Korea's extensive Internet infrastructure, as well as systems (utilities, especially) that are kept off the Internet.

 

The recently (2011) deceased North Korean leader Kim Jong Il had always been a big fan of PCs and electronic gadgets in general. He not only founded Mirim but backed it consistently. The only form of displeasure from Kim was suspicions that those who graduated from 1986 through the early 1990s had been tainted by visits (until 1991) by Russian electronic warfare experts. Some Mirim students also went to Russia to study for a semester or two. All these students were suspected of having become spies for the Russians, and most, if not all, were purged from the Internet hacking program. Thus, it wasn't until the end of the 1990s that there were a sufficient number of trusted Internet experts that could be used to begin building a Cyber War organization. South Korea has to be wary because they have become more dependent on the web than any other on the planet, with the exception of the United States. As in the past, if the north is to start any new kind of mischief, they try it out on South Korea first. While many of the first serious attacks in 2009 were more annoying than anything else, they revealed a new threat out there, and one that not only got worse but turned out to be from the usual suspects.

From http://www.strategypage.com 10/23/2013

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NORTH KOREA: 'Thousands' of Cyber Attacks on South - Ministry Data

 

North Korea has staged thousands of cyber attacks against the South in recent years, causing financial losses of around $805 million, a Seoul lawmaker said Tuesday citing government data. "A lot of data related to our national infrastructure, including chemical storage facilities and information relating to personal financial dealings have been stolen," ruling party MP Chung Hee-Soo said. Using information provided by the Defense Ministry's cyber warfare unit, Chung told parliament that the South Korean military alone had been the target of 6,392 North Korean cyber attacks of varying scale since 2010. The included website intrusions, malware deployments and the use of virus-carrying e-mails. "Our military's cyber warfare ability to fend off such attacks...is incomparable to the North's, which is known to be one of the world's best," Chung said. North Korea is believed to run an elite cyber war unit of 3,000 personnel, while the South has only 400 specialised staff. As well as military institutions, recent high-profile cyber attacks have targeted commercial banks, government agencies, TV broadcasters and media websites. The resulting financial damage since 2009 amounts to some 860 billion won ($805 million), Chung said. North Korea has denied any involvement and accused Seoul of fabricating the incidents to fan cross-border tension.

From http://my.news.yahoo.com 10/15/2013

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In Cyberarms Race, North Korea Emerging as a Power, Not a Pushover

 

Often dismissed as a laggard in the global cyberarms race, North Korea has long been seen as a chronic cyber-superpower wannabe. Its poverty, minimal Internet access, and paucity of malicious software to its credit together have indicated that the "hermit kingdom" has just not yet arrived. But that equation is changing. While the North's nuclear ambitions and maltreatment of its citizens absorb diplomatic bandwidth, a four-year cyberattack-and-espionage campaign targeting South Korean banks, news media, telecoms, and military think tanks has revealed North Korean cyberwarfare capabilities to be far more potent than previously believed, US experts say and new analyses show. What's more, say American cyberwarfare and North Korea experts, the North's advancing capabilities show a dangerous potential to slide into real-world conflict. "Over the past four years the North has seriously intensified its cyberwarfare development efforts at South Korea's expense," says Alexandre Mansourov, a visiting scholar at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. "The [Korean People's Army] is basically planning for a future cyberwar and has been hacking to collect intelligence and prepare to disrupt information and communications, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems of its enemies: South Korea, the US, and Japan."

 

Analyses of these attacks, while falling short of "smoking gun" proof, leave little doubt North Korea is not only behind major attacks against the South – but that its capabilities are much broader than previously believed, Dr. Mansourov and others say. As a result, these experts are boosting their estimates of the sophistication and pace of the North's cybermilitary development – and of its threat to the United States. Most revealing is the new linkage between the North and four years of increasingly threatening attacks on South Korea, analyzed by leading cybersecurity firms in the past five months. The attacks have cost the South more than $750 million, South Korean lawmakers said this month, citing Defense Ministry data. The first major attack, on July 4, 2009, began with a modest distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) bombardment – with millions of requests per second (tiny compared with today's attacks) clogging Korean and US government and financial websites for days. The attacks appeared to emanate from 435 different servers in 61 countries around the world – including in South Korea itself.

 

But a second attack on March 4, 2011, went beyond basic DDoS by launching malicious software that wiped hard drives on systems at one of the South's biggest banks, leaving 30 million customers without ATM services for days. Initial investigations suggested that the North was responsible, but were ultimately inconclusive. Clarity began to emerge this past spring following the biggest attack. It began at 2 p.m. on March 20 with several South Korean banks and media outlets hammered by a massive malware attack erupting from inside their own networks. In minutes, a cyberweapon dubbed "DarkSeoul" infected and wiped clean the critical master boot records of 32,000 computers, wrecking them and crippling those organizations for days – one of the most costly and destructive cyberattacks the world has seen. The digital trail initially led to a cybergang called the "WhoIs Team" – its skull calling card digitally tattooed on the computer hard drives of South Korean banks. Adding to the confusion, another group – the "New Romantic Cyber Army Team" – also claimed responsibility.

 

But US cybersecurity company McAfee saw something else. "Operation Troy," as McAfee dubbed the attack in a June report, was actually the culmination of a "secret, long-term," and "sophisticated" four-year campaign by just one cyberattacker – not the two cybergangs. "Operation Troy had a focus from the beginning to gather intelligence on South Korean military targets," McAfee investigators reported. "We have also linked other high-profile public campaigns conducted over the years against South Korea to Operation Troy, suggesting that a single group is responsible." Which group? South Korean fingers jabbed at North Korea. While McAfee never publicly named a culprit, its officials said privately that Pyongyang was behind the four years of increasingly sophisticated attacks. The McAfee analysis was not the last to track the attacks back to North Korea's doorstep. The same month, cybersecurity giant Symantec issued its own report linking the four years of cyberattacks to a single actor amid not-so-veiled references – "regardless of whether the gang is working on behalf of North Korea or not."

 

In September, researchers at Kaspersky Lab announced discovery of an extensive cyberespionage campaign against six South Korean military think tanks. Far from being a primitive hack, the "Kimsuky" campaign, named after a snippet of malicious code, was "extraordinary in its execution and logistics," wrote Dmitry Tarakanov, a researcher at the Moscow-based firm, who said digital tracks led to the North. "Taking into account the profiles of the targeted organizations ... one might easily suspect that the attackers might be from North Korea," Mr. Tarakanov wrote. "The targets almost perfectly fall into their sphere of interest." Together, the Operation Troy and Kimsuky findings roused cyber experts to upgrade their estimates of the North's capabilities. Just three years ago, James Lewis, an expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, was deeply skeptical of the North as a serious cyberthreat to South Korea or US forces in the Pacific. At the time, he dismissed it in an essay titled “Speak Loudly and Carry a Small Stick: The North Korean Cyber Menace.” "McAfee and Kaspersky are really the first credible reports we've seen about North Korea's cyberwar capability," Mr. Lewis now says. "The North has obtained the ability to penetrate South Korean systems and potentially cause serious disruption." While still a league away from being a global "cyber-superpower," the North today is flexing its muscles and transforming itself into a potent force, he says. "They have improved considerably their cyberattack capabilities and could pose a threat to US institutions," he says. "Maybe not our military or, say, the Federal Reserve. But are there US targets they could disrupt? Yes, there are."

 

WHY THE NORTH LOVES CYBER -Driving the North’s quest for cyberwarfare capability are a combination of the practical and the strategic, experts say. Critical for a poor nation with rich adversaries, such weapons are: • Cheap to deploy and cost effective. Cyberattacks depend on malicious software which can be developed or purchased for far less than aircraft or other conventional military hardware. Cyberattacks can be deployed frequently to harass the South at a tiny fraction of the cost of actually deploying troops and tanks – and with more directly impact on the public. • A strategic counterbalance. Cyberattack systems are seen as a core “asymmetric” warfare strategy vital if the North’s less technologically capable forces are to survive any future fight with the combined forces of South Korea and the US. • Anonymous. Difficulty attributing cyberattacks makes it easier to avoid sanctions and retaliatory strikes.

 

Another driver is Pyongyang's top-down push. Development began around 1999, about the time Kim Jong-il launched the North's own fiber-optic, computer hardware, and commercial software industries. Together, these provide expertise that can be tapped for a cyberarmy. The pace of cyberarmy-building picked up in 2009, accelerating again after Kim Jong-un took power in 2011. He is said to be a computer and Internet aficionado who presses for cyberforce development and tactics. "They actually consider it to be an 'asymmetric' fifth front in any multi-front warfare against their enemies," says Mansourov. Indeed, North Korea's ongoing attacks on South Korea appear to be a kind of cyber-sword sharpening – refining capabilities and testing defenses – far different from most of today's much more subtle and better-cloaked cyberconflicts, some experts say. "Most nations are not trying to take down the servers of other countries – or at least they are trying hard to hide it," says Bruce Bechtol Jr., associate professor of political science at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas, and author of several books on North Korea's military. "But North Korea's main thing seems to be taking down servers, conducting damaging operations, and instilling fear."

 

SOUTH KOREA ADVANC